Americans support student loan waivers, but will rein in college

Support for debt relief was, surprisingly, much higher among borrowers.

One thing that really stands out from this vote is that the people closest to the issue, who currently hold student loan debt, are in a very different position from the American public as a whole, “said Mallory Newell of Ipsos.

84% of borrowers support $ 10,000 relief, 78% support a jump to $ 50,000, and still two-thirds (68%) support waiver of all student loans.

Support among respondents other than student loans was much weaker: half supported $ 10,000 relief, and only 37% supported complete loan cancellation.

The Biden administration has also indicated that it may exclude high-income borrowers from relief – those who earn more than $ 150,000 a year or those who earn more than $ 300,000. But when asked about income limits, voters’ views on debt relief did not diminish.

Do not leave grade school borrowers

The Biden administration has created the possibility of forgiving only graduate loans based on the assumption that borrowers with a bachelor’s degree are in a better position to repay their loans. But according to this new survey, Americans do not see a significant difference.

Sixty-five percent of all respondents agree: If the government waives certain student loans, it should be for any type of education, whether undergraduate or graduate.

Only 30% say that if the government is going to waive the debt, it should be for graduates only.

Deleting old debts vs. system fixing

In one of the poll’s most unexpected results, respondents were asked to choose which sentence they would most agree with:

  1. “The government should give priority to making the college more affordable for present and future students.”
  2. “The government should give priority to waiving some loans for those who have existing student loans.”

An absolute 82% said the government’s priority should be to make the college more affordable for current and future students. Only 16% believe that student loan forgiveness should be a priority.

This is what it tells me, although for some, student loan forgiveness is seen as a good proposition and a short-term solution, where we must actually get out of here.

Another surprise was that respondents felt the same way about student loans.

59% of respondents with student loans said that the government should first focus on fixing the system, while 41% said that the government should give priority to cancellation of loans.

“If I had to make a choice for me, today: forgive student loans,” said Brianna Ford, 27, of Columbia, who owes about $ 50,000 in student loans to SC College and is now graduating.

Ford says he has tried to pay for his education without having to rely on debt, but he is incredibly frustrated at the high cost of college and worried that a generation of students are taking out loans that they can’t afford because they see no other viability. The path of the middle class.

That’s why, while Ford wants Biden to prioritize past debt forgiveness, he says the federal government must do something to help future borrowers.

I acknowledge that without resolving the issue, it’s just like throwing out a tub without turning off the student loan waiver call, “Ford said,” but “in reality it’s not-or not. Political leaders can do two things. “

This could be a major rift in the student loan debate as President Biden’s most ambitious effort to move the system forward remains unfulfilled, including pitches to liberate community colleges and double grants for low-income college students.

The general public understands what economists have been worried about for months: a move to clear student debt without a plan to help future borrowers will only lead to a new mountain of debt for a new generation of student borrowers – and faster.

In fact, a responsible federal budget committee estimates that “outstanding debt will return to its current level in 2027 for $ 10,000 waiver, in 2034 for $ 50,000 waiver, and in 2039 for complete cancellation.”

What did the borrowers do during the student loan break?

Federal student loan payments have been suspended since March 2020. According to the poll, 57% of borrowers did not make any payment during the break and 20% Never Their students have paid a loan.

Twins Morgan and Triana Downing are among the nearly 4 million college students who graduated in the spring of 2020, directly in the student loan payment fridge. They do not know the pressure of regular debt repayment. Now, after a few years in the job market and with their views on grad school, the twins have very different perspectives on their finances.

Twins Morgan (right) and Triana Downing Hall are among the nearly 4 million college students who graduated in the spring of 2020, directly in the Student Loan Payment Fridge. (Amanda Andrews-Rhodes for NPR)

Trianna wants to repay her undergraduate loan before taking out more loans for grad school.

“Now I have no objection to my money back. I hope they will be paid in less than four to six years, and I have created a budget so that I can do it.”

Paul suggests that he has an unusual case – only a small fraction of respondents aged 18- to 25 said they paid during the break.

Morgan feels differently. He says he has paid off a few loans since he graduated, but “after the second or third payment, I think, ‘It’s ridiculous. Why am I paying?’ “

He says his undergraduate loans do not feel real, and he is waiting to see if President Biden will cancel at least $ 10,000 per student loan per person, as promised in his campaign.

“I was excited to vote for a president who was saying that [he] Was going to clean [my] Debt, “said Morgan.

In fact, in the NPR / Ipsos poll, 42% of borrowers said they did not pay during the break because they hoped their debt would be forgiven.

Payment breaks have given borrowers a place to breathe

In the NPR and Ipsos surveys, 47 percent of borrowers said that the break in payments had improved their mental health.

Ipsos’ Newell says that when you look at how borrowers don’t spend money on their loans. The top three expenditures in this category include food, rent and gas (51%); Other debt repayments (45%); And saving money (44%).