Poll Tuition 78521374
What Americans say about…

College affordability: Should community college tuition be free?

Americans increasingly support proposals that would make college more affordable with parents less confident they can afford the tuition for their children.

The public overwhelmingly supports the concept of tuition-free community college, a policy already implemented or proposed in several states and cities. Seventy-five percent of Americans are in favor, according to the 2018 PDK poll, compared with 58% when the same question was asked just three years ago.

Pdkpoll K18A College Afford

Moreover, 68% support greater federal assistance with four-year college tuition. That could be because just 19% of parents of K-12 students say it’s “very likely” that they will be able to pay for their child’s college tuition (an additional 35% call it “somewhat likely”).

In all, 6 in 10 Americans favor making community college free and increasing federal funding for four-year college tuition assistance.

Democrats (94%) favor tuition-free community college most strongly, but the concept is also popular among Independents (70%). Republicans are split, 48% vs. 52%. Nonwhites are 21 points more likely than whites to favor the idea, 88% vs. 67%. There are similar patterns on increasing federal tuition support, although support across groups is slightly lower.

Support for these initiatives is only slightly higher among parents of K-12 students than others. Eight in 10 parents of K-12 students favor making community college free, but so do 73% of other adults. Three-quarters of parents of K-12 students support increased federal funding for tuition assistance; so do two-thirds of other adults.

Pdkpoll K18B Ability To Pay

Even among the wealthiest parents of school-age children, with $100,000-plus incomes, nearly 3 in 10 are unsure they’ll be able to pay for college — and that soars to two-thirds of those with incomes less than $50,000. (It’s 52% in the middle $50,000 to $100,000 group.) More than half of adults who don’t have college degrees expect challenges paying vs. 28% of college graduates.


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