One of President Joe Biden’s most memorable campaign promises was his pledge to address the student debt crisis. And, in recent days, he seems to be inching closer to a deal that would forgive up to $10,000 in student debt per borrower, with a few exceptions.
We asked 1,000 student loan borrowers who have taken on debt since Biden won the 2020 election how much his promise to forgive some amount of student loans affected their decision to take on debt or even go to college in the first place.
- An overwhelming 86% say Biden’s pledge affected their decision to take on student loan debt
- Close to 1 in 3 say they are unlikely to continue school if Biden does not follow through with his pledge
- The majority remain confident that the president will forgive at least some amount of student loan debt
- Nearly 1 in 3 Democratic borrowers unlikely to vote for Biden in the next election without some loan forgiveness
1 in 5 Recent Borrowers Would Not Have Taken On as Much Debt Without Biden’s Loan Forgiveness Plan
86% of recent student loan borrowers, defined here as those who have taken out a loan since Biden was elected in November 2020, say Biden’s campaign pledge to address student debt played a role in their decision to take out loans. Additionally, 21% of borrowers say they would have been unlikely (16%) or very unlikely (5%) to take on the same amount of debt had Biden not campaigned on student loan forgiveness.
“I would not have taken out as much student loan debt if not for the campaign pledge to address student debt,” commented Tom Kelly, CTO of Life Part 2 and a recent student loan borrower. “I would have either attended a different school with less expensive tuition or stayed in school for another year to save on costs.”
1 in 4 Recent Borrowers Went to College Because of Biden’s Pledge
When asked if they would have continued their education in the first place if not for Biden’s campaign promises, 25% of recent borrowers say they would have been unlikely (18%) or very unlikely (8%) to go to or continue going to college.
Additionally, 30% of recent borrowers who are also currently enrolled in school say they are unlikely (21%) or very unlikely (9%) to continue going to college if Biden does not forgive some amount of student loan debt.
70% Remain Confident That Biden Will Forgive $10,000 in Student Debt
Despite the lack of a confirmed plan to forgive student debt, the majority of recent borrowers remain confident that Biden will fulfill his pledge. 70% say they are confident (35%) or somewhat confident (35%) that he will forgive $10,000 in student debt per borrower, which an overwhelming 90% say would be very helpful (60%) or somewhat helpful (30%) to them personally.
In fact, 71% are very confident (30%) or somewhat confident (41%) that Biden will go beyond his initial campaign promises and forgive most or all federal student loan debt. “I still believe that Biden will forgive some amount of student loan debt,” added Tom Kelly. “He has made this a key part of his campaign and I believe that he will follow through on his promise.”
Nearly 1 in 3 Democratic Borrowers Will Not Vote for Biden if Loan Forgiveness Does Not Materialize
Though the recent borrowers we surveyed are confident that Biden will follow through on his promises, they are ready to abandon him at the polls if he does not. When looking just at respondents who identify their political affiliation as part of the Democratic Party (46% of the total sample), 31% say they are unlikely (23%) or highly unlikely (8%) to vote for Biden in the next election if he does not cancel any student loan debt.
“The campaign pledge to address student debt affected my decision to take out student loans because I believed that he would make good on his promise,” said Tom Kelly. “If he is not able to keep this promise, then I may not vote for him in the next election,” he finished.
Biden’s campaign promise to address student debt had a tangible effect on borrowers’ decision to take on the amount of debt that they did and stay in or go to college in the first place. While most remain confident that at least some debt will be forgiven, they will hold Biden to that promise if he does indeed run in the 2024 election.
This survey was commissioned by Intelligent.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish from June 17 to June 18, 2022. In total, 1,000 participants in the U.S. were surveyed. All participants had to pass through demographic filters to ensure they were between the ages of 16 and 24 and had taken out student loans between November 2020 and the present.