Donald Trump versus Joe Biden: how will the candidates’ approach to student loans impact votes?

By Abby Amoakuh

Published Jun 21, 2024 at 01:48 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

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Hello and welcome back to the latest edition of our weekly recaps, where we keep you updated on everything you need to know ahead of the upcoming 2024 US presidential election. If you haven’t been following along so far, make sure to check out the previous recaps so that you’re good to go on all election-related news. This week we will be taking a look at everyone’s least favourite topic: student loans. As the election is moving closer, both candidates will soon be going head to head in a heated battle for the Gen Z vote and it’s evident that this will be one of the most pressing topics for them.

According to the Federal Reserve, over 40 million borrowers owe $1.77 trillion in loans. Thus, it is unsurprising that a new Bankrate survey from June 2024 revealed that one in five adults, or 18 per cent of US adults, claim that student loan debt will play a massive role in unlocking their vote this November.

Moreover, around 29 per cent of US citizens perceive student loan debt as a “national crisis” with 27 per cent of Americans blaming the federal government for not providing enough financial assistance to borrowers.

Where do Joe Biden and Donald Trump stand on student loans?

The Biden administration has launched numerous student loan relief initiatives. Most recently in May, the sitting president cancelled $7.7 billion in debt for 160,000 people in what has become a centrepiece of his re-election campaign. During his time in office, Biden has also forgiven a cumulative sum of $167 billion in loans for 4.75 million borrowers, or roughly one in 10 federal loan holders. The president has now set forward a much bigger goal: forgiving debt for nearly 30 million borrowers as soon as this fall.

Nevertheless, the US Supreme Court offered a sharp rebuke to his much bigger plan to wipe out more than $400 billion in student debt in 2023, dashing the hopes of tens of millions of borrowers.

Donald Trump, Biden’s Republican challenger, on the other hand, welcomed the court’s decision.

Nevertheless, Trump instituted a pandemic-era forbearance program that lasted more than three years and halted payments and interest. Yet, the plan was critiqued for not actually changing the amount of monthly payments, offering little short-term relief for many of the borrowers who celebrated the announcement.

Trump has also slammed President Biden’s recent plans to cancel student loan debt as a “vile” publicity stunt and suggested that the programme will be “rebuked” if he is elected.

“He did that with the tuition and that didn’t work out too well, he got rebuked, and then he did it again, it’s going to get rebuked again, even more so, it’s an even more vile attack, but he did that with tuition just to get publicity with the election,” Trump said, referencing the 2023 decision on Biden’s more ambitious programme for cutting down loans.

“This student loan program, which is not even legal, it’s not even legal, and the students aren’t buying it, by the way. His polls are down. I’m leading in young people by numbers that nobody has ever seen,” the former president continued.

Oh, also, twenty minutes later, Trump blamed student loan relief for a climbing federal budget deficit.

So, that’s a wrap on Biden and Trump’s stance on student loans. It’s a sure thing that this topic will continue to dominate headlines as we get closer and closer to the first presidential debate of 2024, taking place on Thursday 27 June.

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