Nationwide Support for Free College Tuition Inches Even Higher

Posted by Campaign for Free College Tuition on February 16, 2023 at 2:58 PM

The Campaign for Free College Tuition’s latest poll showing the strongest support for free college tuition since November 2018. During the six-year period that CFCT asked the following question “Do you favor or oppose your state providing free tuition at public universities or colleges for anyone who is academically qualified?” overall support over 19 polls has ranged from 70 to 81 percent.

Our latest poll, conducted in January 2023, shows 80 percent overall support, which is remarkably consistent and statistically identical to our February 2022 and July 2022 polls showing 79 percent and 78 percent overall support, respectively. Leading subgroups for this idea were Hispanics (90 percent overall), Millennials aged 35 to 44 (89 percent overall), African Americans (87 percent overall), Millennials aged 25 to 34 (86 percent), and Plurals aged 18 to 24 (86 percent).

Bi- or tri-partisan support of free college tuition among the US population remains consistent and strong with 93 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of Republicans, and 73 percent of Independents strongly supporting or somewhat supporting the idea. In comparison to our July 2022 poll, Democratic and GOP support increased outside of the margin of error and independent support decreased a statistically insignificant three points.

January’s poll continues to show men are becoming more supportive of the idea of free college tuition. For the second poll in a row, there was no statistical gender gap between male and female respondents with 79 percent overall female support and 80 percent overall male support. When the same question was asked in January 2022, female support was 10 percentage points higher.

CFCT also polled five statements in January 2023 that policy makers and other proponents of tuition-free college have made to support their position(s). The statement that had the most net support overall (+46) was “lack of money shouldn't keep qualified students from going to college, and government should help.” Net support was calculated by subtracting the percent who strongly agreed with the statement 8 or 9 on a 9 point scale) from the percentage of those who strongly disagreed with the statement (1 or 2 on the same 9-point scale). Average support for the statement was 7.12 on a 9-point scale.

The “lack of money” statement was also polled in July 2021 where it garnered +31 net support.

The least persuasive statement overall was “A college education is the best way to get ahead in America.” While it garnered +33 net support and 6.6 average support on a 9-point scale, Republicans and higher income Americans (with average family incomes above $100,000) on average rated this statement second.

Tell us how much you agree with each statement.
“1” means you don’t agree at all.
“9” means you agree completely.
Average Support Percent of Responses Indicating 8 or 9 Percent of Responses Indicating 1 or 2 Net Support
Lack of money shouldn't keep qualified students from going to college, and the government should help. 7.12 50 4 +46
We need to make college tuition-free so young people don't have a mountain of debt when they finish school. 6.77 46 7 +39
Free college tuition will create a more skilled workforce. 6.8 45 6 +39
Free college programs should include any adult who wants upskilling and retraining. 6.87 46 6 +40
A college education is the best way to get ahead in America. 6.64 38 5 +33

The polling was conducted in January 2023 in partnership with CollegeAPP and Alchemer Research with 1,235 respondents age 18+. The sample has a Margin of Error of +/-2.7% and was weighted to US Census on age, gender, race, educational attainment and region of the country.

We can't do this alone!

Our goal is to make higher education a possibility for every American, without regard to their financial circumstances.

We have a lot to do and not much time to do it, so your support is critical for our campaign to succeed. It’s with your investment that we can fundamentally reform how higher education is financed in this country, opening the doors to a more equitable society.

If you agree with our goal, our plan, and the urgency of the problem, we ask that you give what you can to help us write the next chapter in our nation’s history of continuously expanding access to universal, free education.

The Campaign for Free College Tuition is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in the State of Washington in 2014 to educate parents, students, the higher education community, policy makers and taxpayers about efforts needed to fundamentally reform our nation’s system for financing higher education. This website and CFCT’s educational outreach activities are made possible through generous individual and foundation support.