Support for Free College Tuition Continues to Rise

Posted by Morley Winograd on September 15, 2017 at 8:34 AM



Support for Free College Tuition Continues to Rise

State Programs Preferred by Most


A poll conducted earlier this month by PSB Research on behalf of the Campaign for Free College Tuition (CFCT) showed another significant jump in support for free college tuition programs for students who are academically qualified.  Strong Support for state programs rose to a high-water mark of 47% -- up 12% since CFCT started national polling in December 2016.  Combining results from those who Strongly or Somewhat support the idea, 78% of the public now approves of the idea of free college tuition, also the highest level since CFCT polling began.

The poll found increased support of state programs that make public colleges tuition-free among nearly all demographic and political subgroups.  Leading the way are Millennials, now the largest generational block of potential voters, who indicated 66% Strong Support of state programs and 52% Strong Support of a Federal program. 

The poll indicates for the first time that a majority of women (51%) Strongly Support the concept of state sponsored tuition free programs.

The September poll also showed stronger support for states rather than the Federal government offering free tuition programs.  Overall Strong Support for a Federal program is 41% -- six points behind state programs.

A majority of Democratic (90% Federal/92% state), Republican (58% Federal/59% state) and Independent (77% Federal/78% state) subgroups support making public colleges tuition-free.

All race/ethnic subgroups also support both Federal and state programs.  Hispanics are, however, the only subgroup in this category that favors providing free college tuition at the Federal level (89%) more than at the state level (86%), including 56 percent who Strongly Support Federal programs and 66 percent who Strongly Support state programs.  

CFCT President and CEO Morley Winograd stated that “CFCT’s latest poll demonstrates the popularity of both Federal and state programs that make college tuition-free.  Both enjoy majority support from Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike, which contradicts recent commentary that the idea of free college is not popular among certain groups of voters.  However, the poll also reveals that state programs have a six-point ‘Strong Support’ advantage over a Federal one.  That’s why purple states like Nevada, red states like Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas, and blue states like New York, Oregon and Rhode Island have all enacted free college tuition programs and why every other state leader should be working hard to follow their lead.” 

The nationally representative online quantitative survey was conducted September 5-7, 2017 by PSB Research. The survey had a sample size of 2,004 respondents with a ±2.7% margin of error at the 95% confidence level.

Slides containing additional polling information can be found below.


About the Campaign for Free College Tuition

CFCT 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.  We believe free college tuition is a goal that is supported by people of all political persuasions and are proud to have both major parties represented in our leadership. 

About Penn Schoen Berland Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), a member of Young & Rubicam Group and the WPP Group, is a global research-based consultancy that specializes in messaging and communications strategy for blue-chip corporate, political and entertainment clients. PSB's operations include over 200 consultants and a sophisticated in-house market research infrastructure with the capability to conduct work in over 90 countries. The company operates offices around the world, including in Washington D.C., New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, London, Madrid and Dubai, which are supported by in-house field capabilities and fully equipped to provide the complete creative solutions PSB clients need. More at




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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.