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ERIC Number: ED633098
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2023-Jun
Pages: 36
Abstractor: ERIC
How Student Debt Forgiveness Widens the Diploma Divide
Buffie, Nick
Progressive Policy Institute
Given the skyrocketing costs of higher education, some borrowers -- particularly those with low incomes and those who were scammed by for-profit colleges -- genuinely need assistance. But portraying student loan forgiveness as a working-class issue is highly misleading. In fact, data on student borrowing shows that debt relief benefits few working-class families, most of whom never attended college in the first place. This paper dives deeply into the evidence on the economic impact of student loan forgiveness. As the paper shows, proposals from political progressives to forgive all student loan debt (or large amounts such as $50,000 of debt) overwhelmingly benefit affluent Americans. President Biden departed from these more elitist proposals, yet his decision to forgive even a more limited amount is still puzzling. At a time when the economic returns to education are rising and the Democratic Party is losing noncollege voters, it makes little sense to target government aid to people who attended college. The paper goes on to examine the question of why the Democratic Party -- traditionally the party of working-class people -- has become so focused on canceling student loans.
Progressive Policy Institute. 600 Pennsylvania Avenue SE Suite 400, Washington, DC 20003. Tel: 202-547-0001; Fax: 202-544-5014; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Progressive Policy Institute (PPI)
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Pell Grant Program
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A