According to LendEDU, the national student loan debt is at $1.45 trillion and is now the second largest class of debt in the United States.
In 2014, Social Security’s main program, Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI), ran a $39 billion deficit. By 2035, the Social Security OASI program is expected to reach insolvency.
Both issues, student loan debt and social security, have risen to the forefront of American politics. So much so that one politician, Representative Tom Garrett (R-Virginia), has meshed together the two problems and formulated a potential solution.
The Student Security Act of 2017 would grant $550 in student loan forgiveness for each month a student debtor was willing to raise his or her full retirement age, or $6,600 per year. The proposed legislation establishes a maximum level of student loan forgiveness of $40,150, or forgoing six years and one month of social security benefits.
The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Chief Actuary projects that such a program would save $725 billion over 75 years. In addition to this, countless student loan borrowers would have their debt burden either significantly reduced or completely eliminated.
This seems like a solution where everybody wins, right? But, what do student loan borrowers think of such a proposal?
LendEDU surveyed 943 Americans with student loan debt to find out their thoughts.
Full Survey Results
1. A new bill recently proposed would offer $550 of student loan forgiveness for every month social security benefits are postponed, up to $40,150 total for postponing six years and one month. Would you be willing to delay collecting Social Security benefits for complete or partial federal student loan forgiveness?
a. 46.13 percent of respondents answered “yes.”
b. 17.5 percent of respondents answered “no.”
c. 36.37 percent of respondents answered “unsure.”
2. (Asked only to those who answered “A” to Q1) How much student loan debt do you currently have?
The average respondent had $29,356.25 in student loan debt.
3. (Asked only to those who answered “A” to Q1) How many months of Social Security would you be willing to postpone if each postponed month meant another $550 in student loan forgiveness?
The average respondent would be willing to postpone Social Security benefits by 22 months – giving them $12,100 of student loan forgiveness.
4. Ultimately, do you think it is more important to take out student loans to get a college education or to have access to Social Security so you can retire comfortably?
a. 51.75 percent of respondents answered “Taking out student loans to get a college education.”
b. 24.71 percent of respondents answered “Having access to Social Security to retire comfortably.”
c. 23.54 percent of respondents answered “Not sure.”
Student Debtors Place a Premium On Student Loan Forgiveness Rather Than Social Security
Taken as a whole, the results of this survey demonstrated just how much student debtors prioritize repaying their student loan debt and easing that burden. If an important benefit like Social Security has to take a backseat, than so be it.
First, 46.13 percent of respondents displayed their enthusiasm for the potential program by answering “yes” when asked if they would be willing to delay Social Security benefits for complete or partial student loan forgiveness.
Even more telling was that only 17.5 percent of borrowers rejected such a program, while 36.37 percent were unsure if they would partake.
One may be able to interpret this as potentially overwhelming support for the Student Security Act of 2017.
But just how much Social Security are student loan borrowers willing to forgo if it meant student loan forgiveness?
Our average respondent had $29,365.25 in student loan debt and was willing to postpone his or her Social Security benefits for 22 months if each postponed month meant $550 in student loan forgiveness.
Under the proposed legislation, postponing Social Security benefits for 22 months would equate to $12,100 in student loan forgiveness. This forgiveness figure would reduce our average respondent’s student loan debt by 41.22 percent, or down to $17,256.25.
For most student debtors, that would expedite the student loan repayment process by a couple of years, at least.
After analyzing the data, it was really interesting to see how much student loan debt respondents would have forgiven depending on their respective amount of student loan debt and how many months they would forgo Social Security benefits for student loan forgiveness.
As the above graphic depicts, of those student borrowers that would want to partake in the Student Security Act of 2017, 37.64 percent of them would have their student loan debt fully erased. These numbers are based on the unique responses each borrower gave us when asked how much student debt they have and how many months of Social Security they would forgo.
Interestingly, these results ended up being quite polarizing; while the plurality of respondents would get full forgiveness, 24.48 percent of debtors, the second highest percentage, would get between 24 percent and one percent forgiveness. Everyone else fell squarely in the middle.
These more specific results show that many student loan borrowers are incredibly enthusiastic about the proposed legislation and are ready to forget about Social Security benefits for a time, if it means $550 a month in student loan forgiveness.
Which brings us to the last question of the survey…
When respondents were asked what was important in their opinion, taking out student loans for a college education or Social Security benefits to retire comfortably, the majority, 51.75 percent, voiced their preference for student loans.
Social Security was valued more highly than student loans by 24.71 percent of respondents, while 23.54 percent were not sure.
Such a wide margin between those who valued student loans and those who prioritized Social Security benefits was a bit surprising. At a time when a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is almost always a prerequisite for any entry-level job, getting a college education is paramount for so many younger Americans, even if that means getting buried in student loan debt.
This result also goes to show that the proposed Student Security Act of 2017 could very well work, especially for a younger generation of Americans. With so many borrowers ready to forgo the maximum amount of Social Security the bill suggests for student loan forgiveness, the government could save some serious cash down the line. It should be noted, private student loans would not be eligible under the proposed Student Security Act of 2017. Private student loans are offered by independent financial services companies and not by the Department of Education.
All data that was featured in this report derived from an online poll commissioned by LendEDU and conducted online by online polling company Pollfish. In total, 943 Americans that currently have student loan debt were surveyed. Respondents were found via screener question which ensured we were given the respondents with the aforementioned requirements. The poll ran over an eight day span, starting on Mar. 7 2018, and ending on Mar. 14 2018. All respondents were asked to answer each question truthfully and to the best of their ability.
See more of LendEDU’s Research