Story at a glance
- The survey results of CNBC’s “Invest In You” revealed stark disparities between student loan borrowers by race and political affiliation.
- More than half of survey respondents said they want President Biden to prioritize student loan forgiveness.
- The outstanding federal loan portfolio is more than $1.61 trillion with 43.4 million borrowers holding federal student loan debt.
A new national survey found Americans are not only dissatisfied with the current state of federal student loans, but that student loan debt has not burdened all borrowers equally.
CNBC’s “Invest In You” national poll surveyed 5,162 adults from Jan. 10 through Jan. 13 and the results found that nearly six in 10 Americans say President Joe Biden should make student loan forgiveness a priority, while one in four Black adults said they have federal student loan debt, the highest percentage of all demographic groups surveyed.
The survey asked respondents a range of questions on the issue of student loans, including their perspectives on how student loan debt has impacted their lives. About six in 10 U.S. adults, 62 percent, said their federal student loans negatively affect their mental health. When it came to student loan forgiveness, 57 percent said they want President Biden to make that issue a priority, while 71 percent said they’ve been following the student loan pause closely.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, both President Biden and then-President Trump implemented a moratorium halting federal student loan repayments, which Biden extended again through May 1, 2022.
However, Biden has been reluctant to commit to a full-on loan forgiveness program, despite calls from members of Congress to cancel it through executive action. Proponents of the mover say it could be the single most effective executive action available to provide massive consumer-driven stimulus.
Americans are paying attention to that, as CNBC’s poll found 69 percent of Americans believe Biden should grant some type of student loan forgiveness, whether that be for all borrowers of federal student loans or only for those in need.
When it comes to the demographics of student loans, 24 percent of Black adults said they have federal student loan debt, compared to only 14 percent of whites, 15 percent of Hispanics and 11 percent of Asians.
A study by the Brookings Institute found that four years after graduating from college, Black college graduates held $24,720 more in student loan debt than white graduates on average. That pushed Black borrowers to remain more than three times as likely to default on their loans within four years as white borrowers.
CNBC’s poll also found gender disparities, with women 19 percent more likely than men to have student loan debt, a trend noted among all races.
Student loan debt also reflects a partisan divide, as 20 percent of Democrats said they have federal student loan debt, while only 13 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans said the same.
All the debt has caused Americans to doubt the need for borrowing, as the Education Data Initiative estimated that the outstanding federal loan portfolio is more than $1.61 trillion with 43.4 million borrowers holding federal student loan debt.
Nearly all people with student loans, 81 percent of CNBC’s poll respondents, said they’ve had to delay key life milestones, like saving for retirement or buying a home, to pay off their loan debt.
Notably, 54 percent of adults polled said student loans are not worth it to take on debt.
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