Consistent with previous years, the survey found that Democrats and Republicans disagree on multiple aspects of higher education. While 73% of Democrats believe that colleges and universities have a positive impact on the country, only 37% of Republicans feel the same way.
Americans are also divided over who should pay for higher education. Most Democrats (77%) say the government should fund higher education because it’s good for society, while most Republicans (63%) say students should pay for post-high school education because they benefit from it.
A new question in this year’s survey asked respondents about the minimum level of education they believe a close relative or close family member should have in order to be financially secure. Although nearly three-quarters of respondents agree that their children or close family members need post-secondary education to achieve financial security, there is a partisan divide. Just over a quarter of Democrats say a high school diploma or GED is enough to achieve economic security, compared to 39% of Republicans who say the same.
Despite overall agreement on the value of higher education, many Americans are concerned about affordability. About half of respondents think Americans can get an affordable, high-quality education after high school.
Across the political spectrum, Nguyen said, people are “quite aligned on the question of affordability.” But, he says, they disagree on how to address these affordability issues. “I think that’s translated into the current policy environment that we’re living in now.”