Democrats and Republicans agree on almost everything about college -- except whether it's worth the cost

  • An MSN poll found Republicans and Democrats have a lot of the same beliefs about college.
  • But on the issue of whether college is worth the cost, there was a stark divide.
  • 43% of Democrats believe college is worth it, compared to 28% of Republicans.

American politics have grown more polarised than ever before.

So it might come as a surprise that Republicans and Democrats actually agree on a lot when it comes to higher education – so long as it’s not about the more philosophical issues of whether it’s worth the cost.

A poll from Business Insider’s partner, MSN, showed that families across the political spectrum had similar beliefs when it came to issues like their plans to pay for college and whether they have already started saving. Republican and Democrat respondents have differences no larger than the single digits.

But when asked if they believe a college education is worth the cost, respondents split across political lines. Forty-three per cent of Democrats responded yes and 44% responded no, compared to 28% of Republicans responding yes, and 62% no.

Walking campus students collegeMichael B. Thomas/Getty ImagesHigher education issues have become the site of a burgeoning culture war.

When asked whether tuition at public colleges and universities should be free, the results were even starker. Seventy-four per cent of Democrats answered yes and 19% answered no, compared to 31% of Republicans responding yes, and 62% no.

MSN polls its readers and then uses machine learning to model how a representative sample of the US would have responded, using big data, such as the Census. It’s as accurate as a traditional, scientific survey.

Higher education issues have become the site of a burgeoning culture war. Conservatives often claim colleges are bastions of liberalism, and argue that conservatives don’t have a place to voice their opinions on campus.

And on the issue of college affordability, politicians split along party lines. Prominent Democrats, like Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren have all called for free public college for families under a certain income limit.

Republicans, including President Donald Trump and outgoing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, have argued against free college.

But despite different opinions about long-term benefits of higher education, empirical evidence shows college is usually worth it, even with the debt involved. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree earn 67% more than high school graduates without a degree, according to a College Board report.

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