Basic Briefing

The Student Loans Debate

The debate on student finance focuses on how students should pay for their post-secondary education. Who should be eligible for Pell grants? Should the government have loan-forgiveness programs? Should students pay the market interest rate for loans? How can post-secondary options become more affordable?

Official Democratic position

The Democratic Party believes that “Cost should not be a barrier to getting a degree or credential, and debt should not hold you back after you graduate”. The Party supports making community college free, refinancing loans for those already with student debt at the lowest interest rates possible, and the continuation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and loan discharge programs developed by the Obama Administration.

Official Republican position

The Republican Party supports “…higher education programs that are directly related to job opportunities.” The Party believes “… efforts should be taken to provide families with greater transparency and the information they need to make prudent choices about a student’s future…” The Party opposes government-granted student loans. However, it supports the government serving as an insurance guarantor.

Institutional framework

The Department of Education oversees federal student grants, loans, and work-study programs. Eligibility for most of these programs – including Pell Grants and Stafford Loans – are need-based, determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Federal loans typically have lower interest rates than private loans and some students are eligible for loan forgiveness programs.

The Federal Trade Commission regulates private student loans. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau investigates complaints about student loan practices.

Most Vocal on Student Loans

These are the candidates who focus on this issue the most, with the most liberal on this issue on the left and the most conservative on this issue on the right. Click on the circles to see more information.

Robin Kelly | Candidate for 2nd Congressional District, 2018 in Illinois (IL) | Crowdpac Joseph Kennedy | Candidate for 4th Congressional District, 2018 Primary Election in Massachusetts (MA) | Crowdpac John Kline | 2nd Congressional District, 2014 in Minnesota (MN) | Crowdpac Joaquin Castro | Candidate for 20th Congressional District, 2018 in Texas (TX) | Crowdpac Chaka Fattah | 2nd Congressional District, 2014 in Pennsylvania (PA) | Crowdpac Michael McCaul | Candidate for 10th Congressional District, 2018 in Texas (TX) | Crowdpac Eddie Bernice Johnson | Candidate for 30th Congressional District, 2018 in Texas (TX) | Crowdpac Matt Salmon | 5th Congressional District, 2014 in Arizona (AZ) | Crowdpac Kamala Harris | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2022 Primary Election in California (CA) | Crowdpac Ruben Hinojosa | 15th Congressional District, 2014 in Texas (TX) | Crowdpac

The Spectrum on Student Loans

These are the candidates who are most liberal, most conservative, and most moderate on this specific issue. Click on each candidate to see more information.

Relevant Committees