President Barack Obama's proposal to send many students to community college for free has widespread public support, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds.
Sixty percent of Americans say they're in favor of Obama's proposal to give two years of free community college tuition to students with a C+ or better average who are making progress toward a degree, with 32 percent opposed and another 8 percent unsure.
More broadly, half of Americans say it's a good idea for the government to pay for students to attend college for free, while 30 percent say it's a bad idea, and 20 percent aren't sure.
A substantial 45 percent of Americans say they know someone who wants to go to college and has the ability to do so, but can't afford to do so. Forty-three percent have taken at least one class at a community college themselves, although few received a degree from one.
But personal experience with community college didn't have much bearing on opinions, with support for the proposal hovering at about 60 percent among both those who'd attended and those who never had. Instead, opinions divided down the usual party lines, with 86 percent of Democrats and just 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 (R-Ohio) 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 Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R).
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 Muñoz told reporters.
By a nearly three-to-one margin, 61 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 HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Jan. 13-15 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.
The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the poll's methodology are available here.