Washington

Biden’s Federal Student Loan Payment Pause Is Popular, and Data Suggests He Could Reap Rewards by Going Further

53% of voters support the student loan payment pause through August

We, The 45M, use signs and projections outside of the U.S. Department of Education on March 14 to celebrate the pause and ask Education Secretary Cardona to cancel student debt. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for We The 45 Million)

The majority of voters support the Biden administration’s extended pause on federal student loan payments through August, according to a new Morning Consult/Politico survey. But it’s not apparent the decision is offering Democrats a boost among voters who owe loan payments, who are less likely to approve of Biden’s job performance or support a Democratic congressional candidate than they were six months ago.

Most Voters Support Biden’s Student Loan Payment Pause

Voters were asked whether they support or oppose the suspension of monthly payments and interest for federal student loans until Aug. 31

Survey conducted April 8-11, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,005 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Where Americans stand on extending the student loan payment moratorium

  • Overall, 53% of voters support the pause on federal student loan payments through the end of August, including 72% of Democrats and 51% of independents. Another 35% oppose the move, driven by nearly 3 in 5 Republicans.
  • Nearly 3 in 5 voters under the age of 45 support the moratorium, along with 52% of voters ages 65 and up. The question is most divisive for voters between the ages of 45 and 64, with 46% in support and 42% in opposition.
  • Seven in 10 voters who report having at least some student loan debt back Biden’s decision to extend the payment pause through August, but they’re not alone: 48% of people who say they owe no money for college also back the freeze.

The context

Biden has faced consistent pressure from prominent Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to use executive authority to all-out cancel up to $50,000 in student loans owed by federal borrowers. 

The president has resisted going that far, but has now extended former President Donald Trump’s pandemic-related moratorium four different times. The current extension is set to expire in late August, roughly two months before the November midterm elections.

Less than 1 in 4 voters (23%) say passing a bill to provide relief to Americans with student loan debt should be a “top priority” for Congress, with the youngest voters most likely to hold that view. But among the 1 in 5 voters who reported having student loan debt, 47% say relief should be a top priority — and Democrats could use some shoring up with this segment of the electorate.

How voters who owe student loans view Democrats

  • Among borrowers who owe student loan payments, 50% approve of Biden’s job performance, compared with 56% in October, while 47% disapprove, up from 40% over the same time frame.
  • When it comes to the generic congressional ballot, Democrats have a 19-point advantage over Republicans with voters who owe student loans, down from a 27-point lead in October.
  • Voters who owe student loans are less likely than those who don’t to say they’re “extremely” enthusiastic about voting in the midterms, 21% to 27%. 

The latest Morning Consult/Politico survey was conducted April 8-11, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,005 registered U.S. voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.