Americans support President’s proposal to offer free community college

AUTODIDACT 17 | 1/29/2015, 11:27 a.m.
A recent poll suggests that many Americans support his proposal to enroll aspiring students at local community colleges for free.

Special to the AmNews

While on board Air Force One a week ago, en route to Houston, President Barack Obama released a video on social media advocating the importance of education. A recent poll suggests that many Americans support his proposal to enroll aspiring students at local community colleges for free.

“Quite simply, what I’d like to do is to see the first two years of community college free for everybody who is willing to work for it,” Obama said. “It’s something we can accomplish, and it’s something that will train our workforce so that we can compete with anybody in the world.”

A Huffington Post/YouGov poll finds that 60 percent of Americans are in favor of Obama’s plan to give two years of free community college tuition to students who maintain a C+ or better average and are making progress toward a degree, whereas 32 percent are opposed and another 8 percent are unsure.

Half of those polled say it’s a good idea for the government to pay for the students’ tuition, whereas 30 percent disagree and 20 percent are not sure. Of those surveyed, 45 percent say they know aspiring college students who cannot afford the cost, and 43 percent have taken at least one class at a community college, although few received degrees.

Support for the proposal was approximately 60 percent both among those who have and those who have not attended college. Opinions are divided down the usual party lines, with 86 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of Republicans in support.

GOP lawmakers have hammered the proposal as being “costly and vague on the details of funding,” with a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner calling it “more like a talking point than a plan.”

Obama, who will need to secure congressional approval, called for “bipartisan support,” highlighting a similar state-level initiative backed by Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

The national plan is part of the Obama administration’s effort to make attending college “the norm in the same way high school is the norm now,” White House domestic policy director Cecilia Munoz told the press.

By a nearly three-to-one margin, 61 percent to 23 percent, Americans say it’s a good idea to encourage every high school graduate to attend college. More than 70 percent of Democrats, Black Americans and Hispanic Americans said everyone should be encouraged to enroll in higher education.

The poll was conducted Jan. 13–15 among 1,000 U.S. adults. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status and number of children.

Watch the video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-QDfEMXAgk.