Amid Omicron Surge, New Fighting Chance for Families Poll Shows Fewer than 1-in-7 People with Student Debt “Very Confident” in their Ability to Make Payments in February; Nearly Half of Borrowers “Not at all Confident”
December 22, 2021 | WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Fighting Chance for Families released a new poll revealing that almost half of borrowers expressed no confidence in their ability to make student loan payments should the Biden administration restart payments in February 2022 as planned, including pluralities of Democrats and Republicans, and a majority of independents. At the same time, fewer than 1-in-7 people with student debt are “very confident” in their ability to make student loan payments when they come due. These results underscore the need for the Biden administration to delay the planned restart of federal student loan payments until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This new poll of people with student debt, conducted by Data for Progress between December 15 and 21, 2021, also shows that the student loan borrowers who report the highest confidence in their ability to repay student loans are also recipients of the expanded Child Tax Credit, which is slated to expire this month without further action by Congress.
“Tens of millions of people with student debt are facing a financial catastrophe in the New Year, as Omicron sets new records and Congress yanks a financial lifeline from working families,” said SBPC executive director Mike Pierce. “This new Fighting Chance for Families poll shows that student loan borrowers need the Biden administration to have their backs. Time is running out.”
“Without immediate action by the Biden administration to extend the pause on student loan payments, millions of student loan borrowers with children will be forced to make an average of $400 in monthly student loan payments at the same time as they lose an average of $400 in direct financial support from the federal government,” said Lindsay Owens, executive director of the Groundwork Collaborative and Fighting Chance for Families. “American families will also be asked to shoulder this burden against a backdrop of record-setting increases in prices for basic goods.”
Yesterday, Politico reported that the Biden White House and the U.S. Department of Education are considering an extension of the pause on student loan payments, interest charges, and debt collection in response to new public health and economic data.
In the past month, the rapid spread of the Omicron variant has driven new COVID-19 cases to record levels as the dual threats of economic instability and historic inflation batter American families this holiday season. Yet, as recently as last weekend, senior Biden administration officials had reaffirmed the administration’s intention to resume student loan payments for tens of millions of people, in spite of mounting evidence that such a decision would be catastrophic for borrowers and their families.
From December 15 to 21, 2021, Data for Progress conducted a survey of 3,039 likely voters nationally using web panel respondents. The sample was weighted to be representative of likely voters by age, gender, education, race, and voting history. The survey was conducted in English. The margin of error is ±2 percentage points. Fighting Chance for Families is a project of Data for Progress and the Groundwork Collaborative.
Earlier this month, the Student Borrower Protection Center led a coalition of more than 200 labor, civil rights, consumer, student, veterans, disability, and professional organizations in urging President Biden to abandon its plans to restart student loan payments on February 1st.
Last week, a new poll by Data for Progress found that 70 percent of voters, including a majority of Republicans, support pausing student loan repayments during the pandemic.
In December, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new economic data indicating that the American economy is currently experiencing the highest level of inflation in nearly four decades. Prices rose 6.8 percent in November when compared to last year. For families across the country, this means that the cost of food, housing, and other basic necessities has spiked even as the threat of a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic looms. Read statement by SBPC Executive Director Mike Pierce.
On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Omicron now accounts for nearly 75 percent of new COVID-19 cases, which are now surging across the country.
The Student Borrower Protection Center is a nonprofit organization focused on alleviating the burden of student debt for millions of Americans. The SBPC engages in advocacy, policymaking, and litigation strategy to rein in industry abuses, protect borrowers’ rights, and advance economic opportunity for the next generation of students.
Fighting Chance for Families is a collaboration between Groundwork Collaborative and Data for Progress advocating for the permanent expansion of the Child Tax Credit.
Learn more at fightingchanceforfamilies.org or follow Fighting Chance for Families on Twitter at @ExpandCTC.