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Poll: Student Loan Forgiveness Less Important Than More Affordable College

By Ella Ceron and Claire Ballentine

The 43.4 million Americans with student loan debt want to ensure that future generations aren’t stuck with their current problems.

In an NPR/Ipsos poll released Friday, 82% of respondents said they believed making college more affordable should be a bigger priority to the federal government than forgiving existing student debt. About four in ten said they had student loan debt, and of that cohort, 59% agreed that bringing down the price of higher education down should take precedent. At the same time, a majority of respondents supported federal student loan forgiveness of at least $10,000. An even higher proportion of debt holders supported forgiving some or all the debt. 

Photo by Keira Burton:

While college tuition prices haven’t increased as substantially in recent years, it’s not uncommon for students to rack up thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans by the time they graduate. Tuition at a private, four year college costs $38,070 per year, on average, according to the College Board, the non-profit that administers the SATs and other exams. Public universities for in-state residents run, on average, $10,740 per year. The average federal student loan balance in the US is currently $37,113.

Black students are the most likely to take out federal student loans to pay for school. Meanwhile, White borrowers hold just over half the $1.7 trillion student debt balance.

Those with student loans are awaiting some kind of announcement from the federal government about repayment or forgiveness. Currently, the pandemic forbearance period is scheduled to end Aug. 31, although Biden is reportedly contemplating broader executive action to forgive at least $10,000 in debt per person. 

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