GOP presidential candidates agree: Student loan borrowers shouldn’t get forgiveness

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former biotech executive Vivek Ramaswamy pose together onstage at the third Republican candidates’ U.S. presidential debate of the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, U.S., November 8, 2023. 

Mike Segar | Reuters

Pres Biden: Today's decision closed one path, now we are going to push through another

Outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. exceeds $1.6 trillion, and burdens Americans more than credit card or auto loan debt. The average loan balance at graduation has tripled since the 1990s to $30,000 from $10,000. Additionally, about 7% of student loan borrowers are now more than $100,000 in debt.

Voters support forgiving at least some student loan debt by a 2-to-1 margin, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll. Less than a third oppose the policy.

Here’s what the GOP presidential contenders say about student debt forgiveness.

Donald Trump

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump campaigns in Mason City, Iowa, U.S. January 5, 2024. 

Rachel Mummey | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump has a long record of opposing debt cancelation. Trump also sided with the Supreme Court in its ruling striking down Biden’s plan.

“Today, the Supreme Court also ruled that President Biden cannot wipe out hundreds of billions, perhaps trillions of dollars, in student loan debt, which would have been very unfair to the millions and millions of people who paid their debt through hard work and diligence; very unfair,” Trump said at a campaign event in June 2023.

Ron DeSantis

Vivek Ramaswamy

In a written statement to CNBC last summer, the tech entrepreneur said America had a bad habit “of paying people to do the exact opposite of what we want them to do: More [dollars] to stay at home than to work, more [dollars] to be a single mother than married, more [dollars] for those who fail to repay loans than those who do.”

Ramaswamy added that the Supreme Court’s ruling to block forgiveness “helps reverse that trend.”

Nikki Haley

The former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump tweeted last June that “a president cannot just wave his hand and eliminate loans for students he favors, while leaving out all those who worked hard to pay back their loans or made other career choices.”

“The Supreme Court was right to throw out Joe Biden’s power grab,” Haley wrote.

Asa Hutchinson

A former governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, called Biden’s broad forgiveness plan “a misuse of executive authority,” in a 2022 statement.

“Shifting the burden from those who willingly took out a loan to all taxpayers is inconsistent with the American ideal of personal responsibility,” Hutchinson said.

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