As President Biden potentially inches closer to a deal to forgive some student loan debt, wanted to find out how those who have already paid off all their student loans feel about the prospect. We found that a majority of former borrowers support loan forgiveness, although a notable minority are strongly opposed to an opportunity they were not granted.

The results:

  • 25% of those who have paid off their student loans do not support forgiveness programs while 75% do support loan forgiveness
  • 78% of those opposed say it is not fair to people like them who have already paid in full
  • However, two-thirds of the opposed group would support other reform programs like lowering college tuition costs

25% of Former Borrowers Opposed, 75% in Favor of Student Loan Forgiveness

Of the 1,250 people surveyed, all who formerly had student loans but have since paid them off entirely, three-quarters are in favor of student loan forgiveness while one-quarter are opposed. Of the majority group in favor of forgiveness, 83% say that student loan debt has greatly affected (38%) or somewhat affected (45%) their lives in a negative way.

As you might expect, the minority group opposed to loan forgiveness has not been affected as drastically. Of this group, only 55% say that student loan debt has greatly affected (14%) or somewhat affected (41%) their lives in a negative way.

Democrats and Republicans Split Predictably on Student Loan Forgiveness

Unsurprisingly, those in favor of loan forgiveness and those opposed are also divided by their political leanings. Only 67% of respondents identifying as Republicans support loan forgiveness versus 88% of respondents identifying as Democrats.

78% of Those Against Loan Forgiveness Say it is Unfair to Former Borrowers

When the opposed group was asked why they are against student loan forgiveness, the top reason cited by respondents was that it would be unfair to them and others in their position who have already paid off their loans.

Write-in responses included sentiments such as, “It will reduce the value of an education. Without a payment, anyone can go and they can screw up multiple times without worry,” and “Any other loans require you to pay them back, we are not teaching young people anything if they think they can take out large loans that will just be forgiven.”

Other respondents were even more direct, writing, “A loan comes with the promise of paying it back. That is the point of a loan. Also, where is the money coming from to pay off the loans? Is the government just going to print more money? That doesn’t sound good. Why trust the dollar then,” and, succinctly, “Don’t write checks your ass can’t cash.”

Those in Favor Cite the Economy

When the 75% in favor of loan forgiveness were asked to give their reasons, the largest group, at 61%, said that they believed it would help stimulate the economy.

55% say they support forgiveness because it would lead to a more educated population, 50% because it would help narrow gender, race, and income gaps, and 49% because it would help unburden people financially.

Two-Thirds of Those Opposed to Loan Forgiveness Do Support Lowering Tuition Cost

Though they are vehemently opposed to outright loan forgiveness, this group does support other measures to reduce and reform the costs of higher education. The most popular option, with two-thirds of this group in favor, is lowering the cost of college tuition.

Although the majority of people who have paid off their student loans are in favor of more progressive forgiveness policies for future generations, 25% are strongly opposed to others receiving benefits that they did not have access to. Many say they believe loan forgiveness would be bad for the economy and for young people if they are not made to learn financial responsibility.


This survey was commissioned by and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish on June 24, 2022. In total, 1,250 participants in the U.S. were surveyed. All participants had to pass through screening questions to ensure they formerly had student loan debt and had paid it off in full. 44% of respondents had only federal student loans, 21% had only private student loans, and 35% had both federal and private loans. 28% of respondents identified as Republicans, 35% as Democrats, 27% as independents, and 9% as apolitical or other.