Many Americans see the benefits of a college degree, such as opportunities for well-paying jobs. Yet over the years, college costs have become extremely high, both from private and public colleges. This increase has led to more and more debt -- a total of about $1.6 trillion, with the average borrower owing over $32,000.

With student loan debt consuming Americans’ bank accounts, ideas to forgive some or all loans has become widely discussed. Loan forgiveness may be most closely associated with progressives, but surveys show the majority of Republicans also believe that government has a role to reduce the debt burden. The surveys below show that many Republican support partial forgiveness. The policies do not go as far as the full forgiveness of student loans championed by some progressive Democrats, but there is still overlap across the political spectrum that government should take action against student loan debt.

An ethical dilemma looms over many who ponder whether or not forgiveness should be granted. Do we eliminate the debt, even while there were people who worked so hard to clear their own? For people who chose another path, such as not to go to college or worked three jobs while in school, is this unfair?

Despite these ongoing questions, the bottom line is clear. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and Independents agree that the government has a role to address this debt. We all want to have good, quality lives without being constantly burdened by student loans

The College Investor

(Survey conducted December 10, 2020 - December 11, 2020)

  • 73% of Americans were in support of forgiving up to $10,000 in student loan debt, including 53% of individuals who never had student loans were in support of this policy

The Institute of Politics at Harvard University/ Harvard Youth Poll

(Survey conducted March 11, 2020- March 23, 2020)

  • 85% percent of young Americans, including 94% of Democrats and 76% of Republicans, favored some measure of reform to student loan debt challenges facing their generation

College Finance

(Survey conducted January 24-28, 2020)

  • 89% of respondents with student loan debt supported at least one of the forgiveness plans
  • 87% of Republicans believed student loan forgiveness would benefit certain people, and 50% believed it would help the country overall
  • 83% of Americans, including 89% of Democrats, 84% of Independents and 75% of Republicans believed that student loan debt impacts many young adults’ quality of life
  • 81% of Republicans with student loan debt supported at least one student loan forgiveness path
  • 80% of Americans, including 86% of Democrats, 82% of Independents and 72% of Republicans believed that student loan debt prevents many young adults from reaching milestones
  • 80% of Democrats, 72% of Independents and 58% of Republicans supported forgiving interest on all student loans
  • 79% of Democrats, 63% of Independents and 50% of Republicans believed student loan debt is the result of an unfair system
  • 77% of respondents who’d repaid their student loan debt supported at least one of the forgiveness plans
  • 76% of Democrats, 66% of Independents and 54% of Republicans supported income-based, month-by-month payment reduction on loans
  • 75% of Americans, including 86% of Democrats, 75% of Independents and 64% of Republicans believed that student loan forgiveness would allow many people to live a better life

The Pew Charitable Trusts

(Survey conducted August 20, 2019 - August 25, 2019)

  • 89% of Americans believed that many borrowers had a hard time paying back their student loans
  • 80% of Americans agreed and 58% of Americans strongly agreed that the government should make it easier for borrowers to repay student loans. This included 91% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans who see a role for the government to address this problem.


(Survey conducted April 26, 2019 - April 29, 2019)

  • Only about 20% of Americans who attended college would tell younger versions of themselves not to attend college
  • 82% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans who attended college would tell themselves to go again

Bella Jasper is currently a high school student who is deeply interested in politics and journalism. In her writing, she hopes to provide a sense of commonality in politics. Bella has a Lean Left bias.

This piece was edited by News Editor Micaela Ricaforte (Center bias), and was reviewed by James Coan (Center). Correspondence can be directed to