Many or all companies we feature compensate us. Compensation and editorial
research influence how products appear on a page.
Student Loans Reports

Survey Finds Student Debtors Think Student Debt is Bigger Threat Than ISIS


  • ​Online poll of 3,364 college graduates with student loan debt
  • Bernie Sanders wins (36%), Donal Trump second (26%), Hillary Clinton third (13%), Undecided (26%)
  • Student loan debt voted as a bigger threat to the United States than ISIS
  • 43 millions Americans holding $1.3 trillion in student debt

The Class of 2016 graduated with more student loan debt than any class in history and 7 out of 10 college graduates are now leaving campus with student loan debt. As November 8th nears, millions of recent graduates will enter into student loan repayment.

Since our first political survey (see part one) in February, the 2016 Presidential race has changed quite dramatically. Since then, the majority of candidates in our poll have left the race in the face of Donald Trump, the now Republican nominee.

In February, we surveyed 513 Americans holding student loan debt. In February, Bernie Sanders won by a landslide with 39.77% of the vote. Hillary Clinton (23.39%) and Donald Trump (10.52%) finished second and third, respectively. In addition, we found that student loan borrowers believe that student loan debt is a bigger threat to the United States than ISIS.

Our goal was to identify who student loan borrowers wanted to win the Presidential election. Student loan policy has become an increasingly popular point of discussion among candidates.

After all, there are now over 43 million Americans with student loan debt. Candidates on both sides of the aisle are vying for approval from Millennials. Student loans are a path into the hearts and minds of the majority of college graduates.

Over the last week we conducted an online poll of 3,364 college graduates with student loan debt. In our newest poll, we multiplied our sample size by six and reduced the number of candidates to three.

Survey Results

Here are the highlights:​

Q. Who do you want to win the 2016 Presidential election?

A. See below:

RankCandidatePercentage of VotePolitical Party
1Bernie Sanders36.76%Democrat
2Donald Trump25.74%Republican
3Hillary Clinton12.75%Democrat

Q. What is a bigger threat facing the United States: ISIS or student loan debt?

A. 54.01% of respondents answered “Student Loan Debt” and 45.99% of respondents answered “ISIS”.​


There was quite a bit of movement from our February poll to our June poll. Bernie Sanders remained at the top of the leaderboard with heavy support from student loan borrowers. Bernie Sanders has tapped into the minds of many Millennial voters and it is showing in our poll. 

Donald Trump made serious progress since our last poll. Trump improved from 10.52% of the vote in February to 25.74% of the vote in June. With only three candidates, Trump likely picked up support from respondents whom had supported other Republican candidates ahead of the primaries. That said, it appears that Trump has also pulled votes away from his Democratic rivals.

Hillary Clinton lost a great deal of support in our newest poll. ​Clinton nose dived from 23.39% in February to only 12.75% in June. Despite Clinton’s New College Compact and other student loan initiatives, she doesn’t appear to be making any sort of progress with student loan borrowers. It appears that Clinton lost support to Trump and undecided. The amount of undecided voters increased from 14.63% in February to 25.74% in June. 

It is quite astonishing to see so many student loan borrowers undecided. ​We know that student loan debt is a significant issue by the fact that 54.01% of our respondents believe student loan debt is a bigger threat to the United States than ISIS. The undecided pool of voters could be a powerful tool for any and all of the candidates. Student loan borrowers are looking for clarity from candidates around the $1.3 trillion student debt issue. This presents an opportunity for candidates looking for Millennial support on election day. 

See more of LendEDU’s Research