Gallup poll: Americans want free pre-K, divided on tuition-free college

By Allen Cone  |  May 3, 2016 at 3:28 PM
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PRINCETON, N.J., May 3 (UPI) -- U.S. adults overwhelmingly like the idea of free child care and prekindergarten but are divided on eliminating tuition at public colleges and universities.

These are the findings in a Gallup poll on views on reducing the cost of education.

It's become an issue in the 2016 U.S. presidential races. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders supports free schooling and Hillary Clinton backs increased federal funding for free day care and tuition assistance programs.

The Republican candidates have not been as strong on the issue. Donald Trump has written and spoken out broadly against student loan debt. And Ted Cruz hasn't spoken publicly on the topic but he is in favor of the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, which ensured all federal loans would be tied to financial markets and placing a cap on rates.

The majority of Americans back free early childhood education: 59 percent favor it and 26 percent are opposed. Just 36 percent of Republicans and independents who lean Republican favor it, compared with 81 percent of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic.

Free college tuition is the more controversial with only 47 percent supporting it and 45 percent opposed. Majorities of 18- to 34-year-olds (63 percent), those in lower-income households (61 percent), those without a college degree (52 percent) and Democrats (67 percent) agree with the proposal. Only 23 percent of Republicans agree with the plan.

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews with 2,024 adults conducted April 21-24, with a margin of error of 5 percent.

In a Gallup poll last month, the percentage of Americans who view having a degree or certification as "very important" stood at 70 percent.

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