Washington (CNN) - Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they favor a proposal to increase the amount of money available for college loans by allowing the government to provide those loans directly to students, according to a new poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday indicates that 64 percent of respondents favor the proposal and 34 percent opposed it.
The measure is part of a package of fixes that were added by House Democrats to the Senate health care reform bill that was passed by the House on Sunday and signed into law by President Obama Tuesday. The fixes still need to be passed the Senate and then returned to the House for final approval.
The student loan measure, which is a priority for Obama, would end the practice of having private banks offer student loans backed by the government.
"Many Americans may not know that a major change to the federal student loan program is part of the health care legislation moving through Congress, but those changes appear to be generally popular," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
The survey also indicates, to a degree, some rare bipartisan support, with a vast majority of Democrats, a solid majority of Independents, and a slight majority of Republicans favoring the proposal.
"There is still a big partisan gap, 82 percent of Democrats support the change, compared to 52 percent of Republicans," adds Holland. "Nonetheless, a majority of both parties have a positive view of the proposal. We haven't seen that very often in recent polls."
The poll was conducted March 19-21, with 1,030 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report