DataPoints: Public support and perceptions


Americans are much more comfortable with their tax dollars going to support community colleges than any other higher education sector, and many also feel they are underfunded by states and the federal government, according to an annual New America survey.

More than eight in 10 Americans (82%) feel comfortable with their taxpayer dollars going to community colleges, compared to 69% to public four-year universities, according to the survey. Also, nearly six in 10 Americans (58%) agree that states and the federal government underfund public two-year colleges, compared to 50% who say the same about public funding for public four-year institutions.

Survey participants who identified as Democrats were much more supportive of the tax and government funding questions than Republicans, with both groups expressing more support for community colleges than for public four-years.

Americans also think community colleges are better at spending money wisely and running efficiently than other higher education sectors. More than half (51% and 54%, respectively) agree community colleges spend money wisely and are efficient, with about one-quarter of respondents (24%) disagreeing.

However, New America notes that over the past five years there has been a dip in perceptions about smart spending and efficiency among both Democrats and Republicans. In 2019, 59% of Republicans and 66% of Democrats believed that community colleges spend their money wisely. Now, only 49% of Republicans believe so, compared to 61% of Democrats. Similarly, 57% of Republicans and 66% of Democrats in 2019 agreed that community colleges run efficiently. Now, 51% of Republicans and 63% report feeling that way.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.
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