College student loan debt looms over the November presidential election, and the outcome could be influenced by the candidates’ stance on the issue.
In a survey released Wednesday by DirectTextbook.com, a textbook price comparison service, 83% of college students and 65% of parents said changes should be made to reduce the burden of student debt.
Seventy-eight percent of college students and 92% of parents said they planned to vote in November, and 90% of voting students and 84% of voting parents indicated that the candidates’ positions on student debt would influence whom they voted for.
DirectTextbook conducted the online survey in May of some 500 college students and parents in the U.S.
How seriously do parents and students consider college debt? Survey respondents thought the issue was equally or more important than several others that figure prominently in the current election cycle:
- Unemployment — students, 75%; parents 58%
- Immigration — students, 66%; parents, 60%
- Gun control — students, 60%; parents, 60%
- Climate change — students, 60%; parents, 68%
- Health care — students, 54%; parents 43%
Another indication of how serious the issue has become: Parents are so focused on their children’s receiving higher education that they are willing to assume debt and forgo saving for their own retirement to pay for it — and not only in the U.S., a recent poll by HSBC found.
Dealing With Debt
The media frequently refer to college student loan debt as a “crisis.” Few would dispute this.
DirectTextbook cited several figures that put the matter in perspective.
At present, national student debt stands at more than $1 trillion, and the average college student loan burden is $35,000.
Tuition costs are galloping ahead at twice the rate of inflation.
Three million parents across the country collectively shoulder $71 billion in student debt, and Americans 40 and older are responsible for 35% of the national student debt.