Two surveys last year painted an unambiguous picture: Republicans had soured on higher education. They thought colleges had a negative impact on the country and the “way things were going.” But a new survey shows that Americans’ attitudes towards higher education—regardless of political affiliation—are a little more complex. Not only do Americans value education after high school, many of them—of both political stripes—are willing to have more of their tax dollars support it.
New America, a left-leaning think tank, released on Monday its second annual “Varying Degrees” survey, which examines Americans’ perceptions of higher education. Whether or not people thought higher education was worth the cost varied depending on the type of institution: For-profit colleges fared worse than four-year private colleges among all Americans, which fared worse than four-year public colleges.
But there were some forms of education after high school Americans had no problem getting behind. Eighty-three percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Democrats think community college is worth the cost. And 90 percent of survey respondents—90 percent of those who identified as Democrats and 93 percent of those who identified as Republicans—believe workforce-based skills programs, such as apprenticeships, prepare students for a good standard of living. Fifty-seven percent of Americans on the whole, the survey found, believe that there are good jobs that pay well that do not require college. But when asked whether there are good paying jobs that do not require education after high school, that numbers drops to 47 percent.