American’s in all demographic and political groups support making public colleges tuition-free, according to the Campaign for Free College Tuition’s latest survey, conducted after Labor Day. We tested four different proposals for free college tuition and all of them received at least 73 percent overall support.
The most popular idea was for “a federal program that provides two years of free community college tuition to individuals looking to learn and improve their skills.” It garnered 81 percent support overall, including 51 percent who supported the idea strongly. African Americans (86 percent support), Asians (89 percent support), Hispanics (87 percent support) and Americans under age 45 (88 percent support for ages 18 to 34 and 87 percent for ages 35 to 44) were the demographic groups most supportive of this idea. Americans aged 55 to 64 and 65+ preferred the federal community college skills building program over state free college programs by a nine-point margin – 72 percent federal/63 percent state for ages 55 to 64, and 70 percent federal/61 percent state for ages 65+.
Democratic support of this idea was nearly universal with 93 percent support – including 68 percent strong support. Independent and Republican support was also strong at 79 and 72 percent, respectively. In fact, Republican support for this idea – 38 percent strongly support and 34 percent somewhat support – represents this partisan group’s highest level of support for a free college program since CFCT began polling on the issue in 2016.
The second most popular free college plan tested was for “a federal program that provides free college tuition to front line workers in the fight against COVID-19.” This idea received 78 percent overall, with 90 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of Republican and 72 percent of Independents supporting the concept. In confirmation of this result, after MI Governor Whitmer launched her “Futures for Frontliners” program that makes this concept a reality, more than 50,000 Michganders signed up in just ten days.
Overall support for “your state providing free tuition at public universities or colleges for anyone who is academically qualified” continues to be strong at 76 percent. In the 14 times CFCT polled this idea, overall support has ranged from 70 to 81 percent. Compared to our April 2020 poll, overall support increased six points from 70 to 76 percent – with Democratic support increasing 9 points from 81 to 90 percent.
Finally, support for “a federal program that makes four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free for individuals with a family income below $125,000” was 73 percent overall – including 88 percent Democratic support, 61 percent Republican support and 70 percent Independent support. African Americans (79 percent support), Asians (79 percent support), Hispanics (79 percent support) and Americans age 18 to 34 (83 percent support) and age 35 to 44 (79 percent support) were the demographic groups most supportive of this idea.
The polling was conducted in partnership with PSB Research and SurveyGizmo with 1,000 respondents age 18+. The sample has a Margin of Error of +/-3.2% and was weighted to US Census on age, gender, race, educational attainment and region of the country.
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.