How support for student loan forgiveness varies across generations – The Hill

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The story at a glance


  • A recent poll among likely voters shows support for student debt forgiveness, even among those without a loan.

  • Progressive lawmakers and advocates are pushing the president to pardon up to $50,000, which would collectively lift millions of Americans out of student debt.

  • Yet support often fluctuates and even declines with age, especially among older generations who hold larger loan balances on average.

While student loan forgiveness is widely endorsed, support often varies and even declines with age, particularly among older generations who hold larger loan balances on average.

Progressive lawmakers and advocates are pushing the president to forgive up to $50,000 per borrower, which would collectively get millions of Americans out of debt, and young, indebted college students across the United States favor at least some, if not full, level of student loan forgiveness for all. federal borrowers. Yet president Biden said he “does not contemplate a $50,000 debt reduction”.

A recent poll among likely voters shows widespread support for forgiveness. More than half of respondents to an early April survey from the Student Borrower Protection Center said they were at least somewhat in favor of eliminating $50,000 for all borrowers. About 46% of likely voters who supported the pardon do not have student loans, the poll found.

“It’s important to recognize that just because people no longer have student debt or have never had it, doesn’t mean they don’t recognize how beneficial it is for their loved ones and for the economy. in general,” Cody Hounanian, executive director of the Student Debt Crisis Prevention Center, told Changing America.

Yet polling data shows less support for widespread loan forgiveness among baby boomers and Gen Xers than among millennials. A majority of Millennials surveyed by Morning Consult late last year supported at least some loan forgiveness, compared to 45% of baby boomers who said there shouldn’t be.

Millennials carry the most student debt with an average balance of $38,877 per borrower, but baby boomers — who hold an average of $40,512 per borrower — will have to pay more when the federal payment break ends because they carry the most debt. This is partly due to older borrowers taking out loans for higher education.

Generation X, which describes Americans born between 1965 and 1980, has the highest average amount of student loan debt per borrower with typical balances of $45,095.

Yet polls show older people are the least likely to support forgiveness. At the same time, some analysts predict borrowers over age 60, who make up about 32% of the U.S. population, will benefit the least from loan forgiveness.

Fairness to borrowers who have already paid off their student loans or to Americans who have chosen career paths without attending college is a major reason for the generational disparity in opinions on loan forgiveness. Republican lawmakers underscored that point when introducing legislation last week to prevent Biden from canceling loan repayments, while calling the president’s legal authority to cancel loans “dubious at best.”

“This decision would not only be unfair to those who have already paid off their loans or decided to pursue alternative education paths, but it would be extremely inflationary in an era of already historic inflation,” Sent said. said Mitt Romney R-UT.


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This perspective is also maintained at the state government level with Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) recently emphasizing the idea that people who made different decisions should not be responsible for the choices of others .

“Mississipians without a college degree (or who have paid off debt) should not have to pay other people’s student loans. Why should people who chose not to go to college or who chose to settle their own loans be punished for the benefit of those who made different decisions,” Reeves wrote on Twitter in late April.

But an underlying problem with the idea of ​​fairness when opposing loan forgiveness is a common misconception about who student loan holders are, experts said. Borrowers are often seen as traditionally young and fresh out of high school. This is no longer the case as changing economic circumstances push people of all ages to continue their education, Hounanian said.

“The average student is not that person. There are parents, single parents, older Americans who are re-skilling and continually re-educating themselves to be competitive in the 21st century economy and so unfortunately the word student loan, I think, is trapped in the stereotype of a young student,” he said.

“It is very easy for opponents of our movement to say that canceling student debt is a handout for irresponsible young people who are not doing their part who have not fully contributed to society, and they are trying to mentor this kind of young scoundrel who doesn’t work hard and isn’t responsible and wants help.

Madeleine Simon contributed to this report.


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Published in May. 27, 2022

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