One of the loudest demands by the Occupy Wall Street protesters is for forgiveness of the nearly $1 trillion worth of student loans, but Americans strongly oppose forgiving that debt. Even as President Obama talks about easing the burden on those with student loans, in fact, Americans are more inclined to think the government should help those who haven’t gone to college instead.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 21% of American Adults think the federal government should forgive the nearly $1 trillion in loans it made or guaranteed to help students pay for a college education. Sixty-six percent (66%) oppose the forgiveness of all student loans. Thirteen percent (13%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Seventy-eight percent (78%) of Republicans and 74% of those not affiliated with either of the major political parties oppose forgiveness of that debt, a view shared by just 46% of Democrats.
Americans overall are almost evenly divided when asked which is more important in terms of granting government student loans – making sure everyone can go to college or making sure that the loans are repaid. Sixty-two percent (62%), however, oppose a law adopted last year that forgives any portion of a student loan still owed after 20 years.
The plurality (43%) of Americans, however, think it is more important for the government to help those who were not able to go to college more than those with a college degree. Only 16% feel helping those with a college degree should be the priority for the government. But there’s a lot of uncertainty, too: 41% aren’t sure which group the government should help more.
One-in-three Americans (34%) believe good grades and a college degree carry with them the promise of a good job. Forty-seven percent (47%) disagree and say college students are not promised a good job if they study hard, get good grades and graduate. Nineteen percent (19%) are not sure.
There’s a perception among all Americans that a college diploma isn’t worth what it used to be. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of adults say it’s still possible for anyone with a college degree who is willing to work to find a job within a reasonable period of time. But slightly more (41%) say that’s no longer true. Twenty percent (20%) aren’t sure.
While Americans reject the call for student loan forgiveness, they continue to offer mixed reviews of the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
Americans also are unenthusiastic about having the government guarantee a job to every American who wants to work. Thirty-three percent (33%) are in favor while 60% reject that idea.
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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on October 21-22, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
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