- A CNBC survey found 57% of Americans want Biden to make student-loan forgiveness a priority.
- More than a third of Gen Z and millennials want loan forgiveness to be an especially high priority.
- Biden continues to stall on broad debt relief amid amplified calls for him to act on the issue.
President Joe Biden has been in office for over a year, and most Americans think it’s time he push the student debt crisis up on his agenda.
A CNBC survey released Friday found that of 5,162 Americans surveyed, 57% of them want Biden to make student-loan forgiveness a high or moderate priority. And younger voters feel strongest about the issue — 37% of Gen Z respondents want Biden to make loan forgiveness a high priority, with 34% of millennial respondents feeling the same.
On the campaign trail, Biden promised voters he would not only reform the student-loan industry and its broken loan forgiveness programs, but also act on broad cancellation of $10,000 for every federal borrower. He has yet to fulfill that promise, and the $1.7 trillion student debt crisis impacting 45 million Americans continues to grow, with voters growing increasingly frustrated with his stalling on the issue.
Insider previously spoke to a Biden voter who thought he would help relieve her student debt burden, but she now feels “betrayed” there has been minimal action on the issue.
“One of the main reasons why I was so in favor of Biden was because I really felt that he was going to help us with the student-loan problem,” she said.
And some Democratic lawmakers have been warning of the electoral consequences that could arise should student-loan forgiveness continue to be put on the back burner. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in December that it’s “actually delusional” to think Democrats can win elections without carrying out progressive policies like student-debt relief.
And Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren — a leading lawmaker calling for $50,000 in loan forgiveness for every federal borrower — told The Atlantic earlier this month that canceling student debt will make Biden look a lot more favorable in the eyes of young voters.
“One of the hardest things for an elected official to do is demonstrate to people that they can count on that elected official to be on their side,” Warren said. “Canceling student-loan debt for more than 40 million Americans would persuade a lot of young people that this president is in the fight for them.”
Still, the Biden administration continues to dodge the broad student-loan relief conversation. After the Debt Collective — the nation’s first debtors union — released redacted documents of a memo outlining whether Biden can legally cancel student debt broadly, the administration has not confirmed the existence of the memo and reiterated that if Congress sends Biden a bill to cancel $10,000 in student debt, another of Biden’s campaign promises, he would be “happy” to sign it.
When confronted on the issue this week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki instead touted the pause on student-loan payments that Biden extended three times, saying that “no one has been required to pay a single dime” in federal student loans since Biden took office.
And Biden himself has avoided the issue, most recently ignoring a question on whether he plans to fulfill his campaign promise during his first solo press conference this month.
The Education Department has taken steps to act on the crisis, including reforming loan forgiveness programs and canceling $15 billion in student debt for targeted groups of borrowers. But when Education Secretary Miguel Cardona outlined priorities for his department during a Thursday speech, broad loan forgiveness didn’t make the cut, raising questions on when, or if, Biden will take on the issue.