Americans back free community college plan

January 13, 2015, 12:54 PM GMT+0

Most Americans support the President's free community college plan, but most would also rather prioritize four-year college aid

Last week President Obama announced a new policy that, if enacted, would allow students to attend community colleges for two years without paying for tuition. A law has not even been proposed in Congress yet, but under the President's initial plan students who maintain at least a C+ average would be eligible for two years of free tuition. Furthermore, this would only be the case in states which sign up to a cost-sharing program which would see the federal government pick up 3/4s of the tab, and states the remaining 1/4 of tuition costs.

YouGov's latest research shows that a large majority of Americans (68%) support the President's plan, while 32% oppose it. Among Democrats support for the proposal is immense, with 90% favoring it, along with nearly two-thirds of independents. Among Republicans 42% support the plan, while 58% oppose it.

Despite the large levels of support for the free community college plan, only 22% think that reducing the cost of attending community college should be a higher priority for federal financial aid. 55% of Americans say that reducing the cost of attending four year colleges should be the higher priority. The group most likely to say that the federal government's priority should be to reduce the cost of four year colleges are people under the age of 30, 72% of whom want the focus to be on cutting traditional college costs.

When asked specifically whether their state should participate in the plan, and pick up a quarter of the cost, 56% of Americans want their state to join while 28% want their state to stay out, indicating that the question of who actually pays for free community college could undermine public support for the plan.

Full poll results can be found here and here.