Jul 17, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Young Americans blame SCOTUS, GOP for unforgiven student loan debt

Data: The Generation Lab; Chart: Axios Visuals

Young Americans are piling the blame for their student debt balances on conservatives, according to a poll by Generation Lab provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: The high court's recent decisions on education, including student loans and affirmative action, could drive young voters to the polls.

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.

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 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.

The big picture: The coming student loan cliff is the latest in a string of withdrawals of pandemic-era supports.

  • 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

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