More than 60% of voters support some student loan debt forgiveness

Personal Finance

A graduate who calls himself “April Vendetta” protests student debt in New York’s Washington Square Park on May 19, 2021, after New York University’s virtual commencement ceremony.
Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Most Americans want the government to forgive at least some of the $1.7 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.

Some 62% of voters support student loan forgiveness, according to a poll of nearly 2,000 registered voters conducted in December by Morning Consult.

Those surveyed, however, had different ideas about how much debt should be forgiven — and for whom. Nearly 20% of voters said all student loan debt should be forgiven, while 15% said balances should be wiped clean only for lower-income Americans.

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Another 16% said all Americans should have some of their education debt wiped away, while 12% said the same for those with the lowest incomes.

Nearly 30% said that student loan debt shouldn’t be forgiven at all, and 10% had no opinion.

Certain groups were more likely to say that some of the debt should be forgiven, including Democrats and millennials. Republicans and baby boomers were the least likely to support any kind of education debt forgiveness, according to the report.

Where student debt repayment stands

The debate around student loan debt is top of mind as borrowers wait to see if the Biden administration will again extend the pause on repayment after nearly two years.

Payments on federal student loans were put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic and were scheduled to resume Feb. 1.

This week, however, the U.S. Department of Education confirmed that the White House is considering extending the break for some 42 million Americans with student loan debt. A recent study showed that nearly 90% of borrowers are not financially secure enough to resume payments.

Lawmakers have also argued that resuming payments now could hinder the economic recovery, something that’s become of greater concern with the new omicron variant of Covid-19.

Forgiveness may also still be on the table. While campaigning, President Biden supported canceling $10,000 in debt for all borrowers, and some Democrats have pushed him to forgive up to $50,000. The average student loan debt is about $40,000 per borrower, according to the Education Data Initiative.

Biden has asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the Education Department to review his legal authority to cancel student loan debt by executive action, meaning without Congress. The president is unlikely to take any action before those reports are completed and make public.

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