Young Americans blame SCOTUS, GOP for unforgiven student loan debt
Young Americans are piling the blame for their student debt balances on conservatives, according to a poll by Generation Lab provided exclusively to Axios.
- Tens of millions of borrowers in the U.S. collectively owe more than $1 trillion.
Catch up quick: The Supreme Court's six conservative justices recently killed President Biden's historic forgiveness plan — and the coming payment resumption carries significant economic and political implications.
- Under Biden's plan, qualifying borrowers would have been forgiven for loans up to $10,000 if they made under $125,000 per year or $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. Its announcement last summer incited immediate GOP backlash.
- Republicans drove the lawsuits challenging it, criticizing it as a "bailout for the wealthy," and GOP presidential candidates immediately praised the Supreme Court's decision.
By the numbers: Most respondents blamed SCOTUS and the GOP for student debt going unforgiven:
- 47% said the Supreme Court was responsible.
- 38% said the Republicans were responsible.
- 10% said Biden was responsible.
- 5% said Democrats were responsible.
More than half of respondents did not agree with the court's ruling last month, according to Generation Lab.
- 17% agreed with the decision, and 21% were unsure.
- Three-quarters of people polled said they were aware of the SCOTUS ruling prior to the poll.
Driving the news: Meanwhile, Biden has begun rolling out his plan B and aims to appeal to young voters.
- The administration said Friday it would alleviate $39 billion of debt for 804,000 borrowers.
The Biden re-election campaign could lose voters who care about student debt forgiveness if it doesn't clearly align with them, said Analilia Mejia, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy Action.
- "They obviously need to ensure that there is high enthusiasm across the voting bloc to secure victory" in 2024, she said.
Of note: Public confidence in the Supreme Court has been staggeringly low in recent months, particularly since it overturned Roe v. Wade.
- "Young people are right. It's a radicalized Supreme Court," Mejia said.
- Federal student loan payments will resume in October after years of COVID-related pauses.
- Americans with student loan debt tend to be younger, with lower incomes — they're spending a higher share of their income already, so an additional monthly payment will hurt.
Methodology: The Generation Lab, which measures youth trends and perspectives, polled 783 college students and recent graduates nationwide July 12–17 about who's responsible for student loans not being forgiven.
Go deeper: Who owes the most in federal student loans