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Student loan forgiveness: Wide disparity of public opinion across states

Should student loans be written off? If you are in the U.S., where you live matters.

What is critical race theory and why are some lawmakers so afraid of it?
Leadership and diversity trainer Glenn Singleton addresses University of Texas at Austin students and community leaders at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at UT. Singleton is the creator of Courageous Conversation, a thought-provoking training protocol for interracial dialogue, and works to establish racial equality worldwide. Imge - LBJ Library - Public Domain (CC0 1.0)
Leadership and diversity trainer Glenn Singleton addresses University of Texas at Austin students and community leaders at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at UT. Singleton is the creator of Courageous Conversation, a thought-provoking training protocol for interracial dialogue, and works to establish racial equality worldwide. Imge - LBJ Library - Public Domain (CC0 1.0)

In the U.S., President Biden has apparently drawn up a plan to cancel a portion of student debt. News reports suggest that the Biden administration is leaning toward forgiving $10,000 in student loans per borrower. This is far less than many campaigners hoped for and represents only a small proportion of the debt incurred within the U.S. for-profit higher education system.

For example, Thomas Gokey, co-founder of the Debt Collective, a national union of debtors, is quoted as saying: “This is less than what he promised on the campaign”, noting that this measure will make little impact on the country’s $1.7 trillion outstanding student loan balance. The level of student loan debt outpaces other levels of repayments, including credit card and automobile debt.

The Biden discourse uses the term ‘forgiveness’ which is a curious one and infers a degree of moralising. Either students should meet the cost of their education or the state should fund some or all of the costs as part of the betterment of society; if it a matter of political choice in either the liberal (former) or social democratic (latter) tradition.

The company My eLearning World has released a new report analyzing the level of interest in student loan forgiveness across all 50 states.  By combining search trends with publicly available demographic data, it was found that interest in cancelling student debt has increased dramatically following the coronavirus pandemic. However, despite the overall shift there are some fairly stark disparities between different states.

The review finds that states most interested in student debt cancellation are:

1.         South Dakota

2.         Montana

3.         Pennsylvania

4.         Illinois

5.         Ohio

6.         Iowa

7.         Minnesota

8.         Idaho

9.         Wisconsin

10.       Michigan

There are some regional differences within states. For example, the Erie, PA metro area saw the largest increase in student loan forgiveness in the entire country, followed by Macon, GA, Watertown, NY, Parkersburg, WV, and Binghamton, NY.

In contrast, the states showing the least interest in cancelling the debt are:

1.         Mississippi

2.         Alabama

3.         Maryland

4.         Arkansas

5.         Tennessee

6.         Oklahoma

7.         Louisiana

8.         Arizona

9.         Indiana

10.       Vermont

Within the two lists some clear patterns emerge. For example, states in the northern half of the U.S. have seen the largest increase in interest in student loan forgiveness since the onset of the pandemic. This is less so with southern states.

Furthermore, there appears to be no correlation between cost of living and increased interest in student loan forgiveness.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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