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

“We Democrats are focused on making sure that taxpayer dollars support high-quality education programs.” The Democratic Party supports expanding Pell grant scholarships, giving tax credits to families paying for college, and putting a cap at 10% of earnings on federal loan repayments. The Party also supports reducing federal aid to colleges that do not keep costs down.

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.


Michael McCaul | 10th Congressional District, primary (2018) in Texas (TX) | Crowdpac Eddie Bernice Johnson | 30th Congressional District, primary (2018) in Texas (TX) | Crowdpac Karen Bass | 37th Congressional District, primary (2018) in California (CA) | Crowdpac Ron DeSantis | 6th Congressional District, primary (2018) in Florida (FL) | Crowdpac Cedric Richmond | 2nd Congressional District, primary (2018) in Louisiana (LA) | Crowdpac Matt Salmon | 5th Congressional District (2014) in Arizona (AZ) | Crowdpac Mark Pocan | 2nd Congressional District, primary (2018) in Wisconsin (WI) | Crowdpac Kamala Harris | US Senate (2016) in California (CA) | Crowdpac Ruben Hinojosa | 15th Congressional District (2014) in Texas (TX) | Crowdpac Tony Cardenas | 29th Congressional District, primary (2018) in California (CA) | 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