‘Just cancel it’: 85% of young US voters want action on student debt

A plurality of Americans under age 30 surveyed by Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics support canceling all outstanding student loan debt.

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SOURCECommon Dreams

Nearly nine in 10 young Americans want the government to address the student loan debt crisis, with a plurality—but overall minority—supporting full cancelation, according to the results of a national survey published Monday.

The survey, conducted by Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics (IOP), found that 85% of respondents under age 30 “favor some form of government action on student loan debt.”

However, “young Americans had no clear consensus on a path forward related to student loan debt,” with 38% of overall respondents wanting all debt canceled, 27% agreeing that the government should assist with—but not cancel—repayment, 21% favoring cancelation for the neediest borrowers, and 13% supporting the status quo.

Among Democratic voters, the survey found 43% support for canceling all debt, 19% wanting some government help, 29% backing cancelation for those in need, and 4% favoring current policy.

“Opinions on this issue do not differ significantly among likely voters in the 2022 midterms compared to the broader population of 18-to-29-year-olds,” said IOP, “as 83% of young likely voters express a preference for government action, including 79% of those not in college now, and without a degree.”

The IOP survey also found:

  • A majority (54%) of white Americans and 49% of Asian-Americans under 30 “strongly” agreed with the statement, “I grew up thinking it was possible for me to go to college,” compared to only 32% of Black Americans and 38% of Latinos under 30; and 
  • Forty-eight percent of young Americans agree—but only 18% strongly agree—with the statement, “Going to college is worth the time and money,” while 26% disagreed and 24% chose a neutral position.

The survey also revealed that young people are increasingly cynical about the ability of electoral politics to deliver solutions to the world’s problems.https://

In what IOP called a “warning sign that interest in voting in the 2022 midterms could wane,” the survey found a sharp increase in the percentage of youth who agree that “political involvement rarely has any tangible results,” from 22% in 2018 to 36% in 2022. More than four in 10 survey respondents also agreed with the assertion that their vote won’t “make a real difference,” while over half of those surveyed believe that “politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing.”

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