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Press release/statement

New National Poll Shows 80% of Americans Support Addressing College Affordability Crisis

Washington D.C. – Today Demos, a New York City based think tank and leading supporter of debt-free college, released new polling data that shows overwhelming support for making college more affordable. The poll also demonstrates that support for more affordable higher education is particularly strong among the working class.

The poll, which was conducted by Hart Research Associates, included interviews of 1,103 voters from September 21 to 25, 2016. The key findings include:

  • 80% of registered voters think we need to return to the days when students could afford to go to a state college or university by working a part-time job, and not have to take on debt.
  • Broad, bi-partisan majorities support debt-free higher education. While the support was highest among Democrats at 86%, 82% of Independents and 72% of Republicans also agree that students should be able to work their way through college without needing to borrow.
  • Support for debt-free college is strong among working and middle-class voters. 86% of registered voters making under $50,000 a year support debt-free college.
  • 88% of African Americans support providing federal financial assistance to states to make public colleges and universities more affordable.
  • Contrary to popular belief, this is important for more than just millennials. There is strong cross-generational support from every age group, including seniors, to return to a system of debt-free college.

“While these findings show widespread support for making college more affordable, it is also evident that Americans who would most benefit from big investments in public higher education see it as a priority,” said Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy and Research. “It should come as no surprise that the working class supports returning to debt free public college. These are students who are more likely to borrow for college and struggle to repay loans, which in turn perpetuates a system of economic inequality and privilege. We need to ensure that these voters, and their concerns, are represented in our political discourse.”

Since 2006, Demos has been a leader in advancing policy solutions to address the college debt crisis facing America’s students. After years of studying the trends in funding for higher education at the state level, Demos released a policy blueprint in 2014, titled The Affordable College Compact, under the leadership of Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy and Research. For the first time, the compact outlined a detailed approach to achieve Debt-Free College through federal-state partnerships, with the goal of making public higher education more affordable for all students.

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