39% of Prospective Undergrads Say Roe v. Wade Ruling Impacts College Decision

The majority of students oppose the U.S. Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade and desire to attend college in a state that legally protects the right to an abortion.

August 4, 2022 · Updated on August 2, 2022

39% of Prospective Undergrads Say Roe v. Wade Ruling Impacts College Decision
Survey Reports
Photo by Chanintorn Vanichsawangphan / EyeEm / Getty Images

  • 59% of current and prospective college students oppose the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • 37% of current students say they would've attended school in another state had it been overturned earlier.
  • 43% of current undergrads say the ruling impacts their decision to remain in the state where they attend school.
  • 75% of students say colleges should help students accessreproductive health services, including abortion.

On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that gave all people who can become pregnant the right to an abortion. In a new BestColleges survey of 1,000 current and prospective undergraduate and graduate students, students shared all the ways this decision is already impacting their educational journey.

Of those planning to enroll in an undergraduate program in the next 12 months, 39% say that the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade will impact their decision to attend college in a particular state.

Similarly, 43% of current undergraduate students say that the recent overturning will impact their decision to remain in the state where they are attending college.

Current students are nearly evenly divided on whether the decision will impact their choice to remain in the state where they attend school, while prospective students are significantly less likely to say it will impact where they choose to attend college.

Current undergraduates who identify as BIPOC are significantly more likely than white undergraduate students to say the overturning of Roe v. Wade will impact their decision to remain in the state where they currently attend school (51% vs. 35%).

Prospective undergraduates who identify as BIPOC are similarly more likely to say the Court's recent overturning will impact their decision to attend college in a particular state (43% vs. 34%).

Current undergraduates who are millennials (ages 26-41) are significantly more likely than those who are part of Generation Z (ages 16-25) to say the Court's decision will impact their choice to remain in the state where they currently attend college (58% vs. 37%).

Majority of Students Oppose the Overturning of Roe v. Wade

More than half of current and prospective students (59%) say they oppose the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Additionally, more than two-thirds (69%) say they support a woman's right to choose an abortion. Less than 1 in 5 students (16%) do not.

Women are significantly more likely than men to say they oppose the Court's decision (67% vs. 48%). They are also more likely to say they support a woman's right to choose an abortion (73% vs. 64%). LGBTQ+ students are more likely than those who identify as straight to say the same (78% vs. 67%).

More Than 1 in 3 Students Would've Attended College Elsewhere Had Roe v. Wade Been Overturned Sooner

More than a third of current undergraduate and graduate students (37%) say they would have attended college in a different state if the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade had occurred before they made their college choice.

Millennial respondents are significantly more likely than Generation Z respondents to say they would have attended school elsewhere had the landmark ruling been previously overturned (53% vs. 31%).

Overall, the majority of current and prospective students say they are familiar with the abortion laws and regulations in their current state of residence (68%), and more than half of students (57%) say they desire to attend a college in a state that legally protects the right to abortion. Just 17% of students disagree.

Even among students who voice support for the Supreme Court's decision, 46% still say they desire to attend school in a state where the right to an abortion is legally protected. Only 29% say they do not.

Students in the Northeast (65%) and West (66%) are more likely than students in the South (50%) and Midwest (54%) to say they desire to attend college in a state that legally protects the right to an abortion.

Students' Voting Decisions and Confidence in Supreme Court Has Been Impacted

More than half of current and prospective students (59%) say that the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade will impact their vote in the November 2022 midterm elections. Those who oppose the decision are significantly more likely than those who support it to say it will impact how they vote in just a few months (68% vs. 50%).

Current and prospective students' confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court has also been impacted. Just over 1 in 3 students (36%) say they are confident in the Supreme Court as an institution. Slightly more (39%) say they are not, while a quarter (25%) are neutral.

Men are significantly more likely than women to say they are confident in the U.S. Supreme Court as an institution (47% vs. 28%). Students who identify as straight are also more likely than LGBTQ+ students to express confidence in the Court as an institution (41% vs. 23%).

Millennial students are significantly more likely than Generation Z students to say they are confident in the U.S. Supreme Court as an institution (50% vs. 29%).

Students Want Colleges to Support Access to Reproductive Health Services

The overwhelming majority of current and prospective students (75%) say they think colleges should support students in accessing reproductive health services, including abortion. Only 15% disagree, while a tenth of students (10%) are unsure. Even those who support the Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade agree that colleges should support students in obtaining access to abortion (70%).

The majority of respondents (58%) who think colleges should support students in obtaining access to reproductive health services say colleges should increase mental health and counseling services related to abortion.

Nearly an equal amount of these students say institutions should have flexible attendance policies should a student need to travel to obtain an abortion and/or need medical leave time related to obtaining one (57%).

Many also say colleges should provide free pregnancy tests (53%), legal support for students needing an abortion (51%), and free contraceptive services (49%).

Overall, most current and prospective college students believe people who can become pregnant should have the right to choose an abortion, and they want schools to step in and increase access to reproductive health services whenever possible.

Methodology

The survey was conducted from July 7-13, 2022. Student respondents were fielded by Lucid LLC. Survey participants included 1,000 respondents nationwide, currently enrolled in or planning to enroll in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college or university in the next 12 months. Respondents were 16-65 years of age and currently pursuing or planning to pursue an associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, or professional degree. The respondents for the survey were screened by various quality checks, including systems like Relevant ID, and responses were manually reviewed to ensure consistency and accuracy.