Adam S. Minsky, Esq. Senior Contributor
October 12, 2020
President Trump has offered to forgive some student loan debt as part of a new $1.8 trillion stimulus proposal to House Democrats, indicating how rapidly the idea of cancelling student debt has gained broad, bipartisan appeal.
Trump’s latest attempt to revive stimulus talks comes after he abruptly pulled the plug on congressional negotiations last week. The administration is now proposing that $25 billion of the $1.8 trillion package be dedicated to student loan forgiveness. This figure represents only a tiny fraction of the estimated $1.7 trillion in total outstanding student loan debt, indicating the effort would have a small impact if enacted. The administration did not make clear how it proposes to allocate the $25 billion, nor did it specify who would be eligible for student loan forgiveness.
While the offer is relatively small, the overture is an indication of how the concept of student loan forgiveness has rapidly gone mainstream. Widespread student loan forgiveness has evolved during the last several years from a fringe idea to a serious policy initiative with increasing support by elected officials. And the public backs the concept. A recent poll conducted last month by Data for Progress found that 67% of respondents, including 58% of Republicans, support some form of widespread student loan forgiveness — whether it is universal, tied to income, or based on specific program eligibility. Only 26% of respondents said student loan debt should not be forgiven.