Across the country, students are returning to colleges and universities and gaining two things that will follow them forever — wisdom and debt.

In truth, student debt isn’t even a recent phenomenon. In 2012 the overall national student debt surpassed $1 trillion. But it’s been growing considerably worse in the past decade. It now looms at more than $1.6 trillion and increases at around $4,000 per second based on statistics monitored by Student Loan Hero. Though it adversely affects Millennials and Zoomers, the student loan crisis hasn’t spared the elderly.

According to a new survey, these college students won’t be taking this lying down. The 2019 State of the Student report found that 80% of college students intend to vote in the 2020 election, and 79% are motivated chiefly by the exorbitant debt they carry. Only 8% said they did not intend to vote, while 12% were unsure. More interesting — a full third of respondents said that neither the Democratic nor Republican parties reflected their beliefs.

This is an aspirational figure, as just under half of all college students voted in 2016. But younger voters have been very politically active in recent years. That political action extends to confronting their own universities. Zoomers and Millennials, who bear the burden of the student loan crisis, also make up the largest voting bloc in 2020.

All this is good news for progressive candidates like Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) who have made student loan forgiveness a core policy proposal for their 2020 bids for the Democratic nomination. And other progressive proposals like raising the minimum wage help address the student debt crisis as well. While tuition is rising at an alarming rate wages remain stagnant. Some lawmakers, however, have tried to lower the minimum wage specifically for college students.

Meanwhile, existing programs for debt forgiveness are increasingly under threat by the Trump administration.

Students feel ill-served by the two-party system according to the State of the Student report, but if they make their voices heard in 2020 as they intend, they have a chance to address a debt crisis that slowly strangles American economic growth.

(Featured image: KOMU News/Creative Commons)


Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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