Student Loan Debt Tops $1 Trillion — Now What?

APCO's 2012 election coverageJadzia Butler is a junior associate in our Washington, D.C., office and will be following the dynamics of the youth vote during the 2012 election cycle.

As young people, we’ve always been told that higher education is one of the wisest investments we can make — it leads to better job prospects and higher salaries and is a means to provide for ourselves and our families while pursuing careers we love.

Not anymore.

The latest Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) report shows that student loan debt in our country has topped $1 trillion as a result of more people attending college than ever, skyrocketing tuition costs and a crummy job market that’s left graduates unemployed and watching helplessly as the interest on their loans climbs higher and higher.  

Student loan burdenStudent loan debt is one of the many reasons young people are forgetting the possibility of owning a home someday and saving up for retirement. Yet despite the disappointing outlook of their economic future, somehow the young people I’ve spoken with still seem to have a smidgeon of hope left. This is good news for presidential candidates — in a tight race, that smidgeon of hope might be just enough to drive a candidate to victory in November.

So which candidate inspires this hope the most? For some, it’s still President Obama. “He rightly recognizes the government has an active role to play in getting the economy moving again, whereas Romney’s plans to slash spending and repeal Obamacare would make things worse,” one supporter says. “A tax break on the wealthy would only hurt my family in the near future, and I’m not anticipating being in the top 1 percent for quite a while,” says another.

Others feel the president already had his chance — and he crashed and burned. “I graduated in December and originally thought it would be easier to look for a job in the spring semester as opposed to waiting until most [students] graduate in May. It’s just as hard,” says a recent graduate who plans to vote for Governor Romney (the presumed Republican nominee). “I’m not going to graduate school, but in this hectic job [market?] I sometimes feel like it would be an easier alternative!”

Today, more than 40 percent of young people are sitting on a pile of unpaid debt — many of them back under their parents’ roof. Debt may not be the only issue driving their vote, but now, more than ever, it’s definitely the economy, stupid.

Posted on April 2, 2012 By
Categories  U.S. Elections and tagged , ,
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