Most Americans Support Student Debt Forgiveness Until They Think About It

Eric Boehm:

A new poll shows that President Joe Biden’s decision to forgive $10,000 in student loan debt for many individuals who borrowed money from the federal government to pay for college (and $20,000 for those with need-based Pell Grants) is broadly popular—as long as people don’t think about the scheme’s knock-on effects. Once the potential consequences—including higher inflation and rising college tuition costs, are taken into account—support for student debt forgiveness craters, even among self-identified Democrats.

“Support for cancelling federal student loan debt plummets when Americans consider its trade-offs,” writes Emily Ekins, director of polling for the libertarian Cato Institute, which published polling data on student debt forgiveness Thursday. The Cato/YouGov survey includes more than 2,300 Americans and was conducted over six days in mid-August, just prior to the White House’s August 24 announcement of the student loan forgiveness plan.

The results are striking. While 64 percent of respondents (and 88 percent of Democrats) back student loan forgiveness of $10,000 for individuals earning up to $150,000 annually, those totals fall significantly once potential consequences are introduced.