The 2016 Presidential race is heating up as South Carolina and Nevada both just held their primaries, and every other state will follow suit in the coming months. Though some candidates have positioned themselves at the top of their parties, the race is still wide open. One of the biggest issues that candidates have been questioned about is the student loan crisis.
Currently, about 43 million Americans hold over $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. This number grows every second as more and more students are taking on debt to finance their higher education. These people are a huge target for all candidates in the race and having a plan to attack student loan debt is a great way to win them over.
Many of the candidates have proposed solutions to the student loan crisis. Some of these include federal student loan refinancing, free public college, and income-based lines of credit. Previously, however, it was unclear how student loan borrowers felt about these different plans and who they wanted to be the 45th President of the United States.
LendEDU, a student loan refinancing marketplace, recently conducted a survey to find the answers to these questions. The company surveyed 513 graduated student loan borrowers and asked them who they wanted to win the 2016 presidential election and who they thought was best equipped to handle the $1.3 trillion student loan problem in the United States.
For the first question, 39.77% of respondents wanted Bernie Sanders to win, followed by Hillary Clinton at 23.39%, Donald Trump at 10.52%, and Marco Rubio at 5.26%. Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Ben Carson, all came in next, respectively, each receiving less than 5% of the vote. Furthermore, 14.63% of respondents reported that they were undecided. (See accompanying infographic here)
The second question asked borrowers to rate the candidates from 1-8, with 8 being the best, on who they thought was best suited to handle our nation’s $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt. Sanders once again came out on top with an average rating of 6.49. Following him were Clinton with a rating of 5.81, Bush with a rating of 4.45, Rubio with a rating of 4.35, and Christie with a rating of 4.23. Cruz, Carson, and Trump filled out the bottom of the ballot, in that order, with each receiving a rating of under 4.
It isn’t surprising that the two leading Democratic candidates came in first and second for both questions. Both have repeatedly threw out the idea of free college in some form and are looking to help make college more affordable. In addition, it is quite apparent that Sanders has won over Millennial voters, many of which are student loan borrowers.
Another interesting result is that Donald Trump finished third for who respondents wanted to be the next president but last in the question asking borrowers to rate each candidate. This is most likely because respondents who preferred other candidates gave him very low ratings. It is no secret that Trump isn’t afraid to speak his mind and that many of his ideas come off as harsh and insensitive, and this surely impacted his rating.
Arguably the most important result from the survey is that almost 15% of respondents were undecided on who they would like to be our next president. This leaves an opening for one of the candidates to gain some support. If a candidate releases more information on a potential solution to the issue, they may be able to sway some voters to choose him or her.
The last question on the survey wasn’t directly related to the Presidential election but still gave an interesting result. About 57% of those surveyed said that they thought student loan debt posed a bigger threat to the United States than ISIS did. Everyone knows that ISIS is a significant threat, but it is quite eye opening to see that most borrowers believe that student loan debt has the potential to do more damage to our nation than the extremist terrorist group.
The upcoming election will have a substantial effect on the future of our nation’s student loan crisis. Whether a Democrat or Republican is elected, expect the future president to take action to help the millions of Americans struggling with their student loan repayment.