Americans support free college yet think 4-year degrees worth the price

educationdive | March 14, 2019

Americans support free college yet think 4-year degrees worth the price
Nearly three-quarters of Americans support free college, although a majority (60%) also think a four-year degree is worth today's high prices, according to a new survey from the APM Research Lab. About 36% question its value, most often, they say, because it leaves people with high debt and without specific job skills.Seventy-percent of respondents with a bachelor's degree or higher think a four-year degree is worth the cost, compared to those with a high school diploma or less (55%). More Democrats (69%) than Republicans and Independents (55% each) said it was worth the cost.Free college had strong support among women, those ages 18 to 44, Democrats, part-time workers, and Latino and non-Hispanic black respondents. Eighty-percent of respondents under the age of 45 support the idea, compared to 57-66% of those age 55 and older. The free college concept is steadily gaining support at the state level. Just last week, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed a free community college plan that, if approved, would take effect in her state in 2021 and cost between $80 million and $100 million annually. It would also provide a $2,500 scholarship for students enrolling at four-year colleges. Michigan would join nearly two dozen states that have such plans.

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