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Color Of Change Poll: 84% of Black Voters Support Student Loan Debt Elimination

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February: 16, 2021

Media Contact: media@colorofchange.org

Color Of Change Poll: 84% of Black Voters Support Student Loan Debt Elimination 

New nationwide survey of registered voters illustrates depths to which student loan debt exacerbates racial wealth gap, hinders upward mobility for Black people

40% of Black voters would never vote for candidate who opposes student loan debt elimination

NATIONWIDE — A new national poll released today by Color Of Change reveals a vast majority of Black voters want swift and decisive action by the federal government to eliminate student loan debt as the crisis becomes increasingly exacerbated by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing, systemic inequities facing Black communities. In partnership with Color Of Change, Global Strategy Group conducted the online survey of 803 registered voters across the country, with an oversample of 120 Black registered voters, between January 6 and 10, 2021. 

Poll results reveal more than half of all Black voters (56%) have held or are currently holding student loan debt, and 84% support a full or partial elimination of student loan debt — with two thirds (67%) indicating they “strongly support” eliminating student loan debt. Black women, one of the most active voting blocs in the nation, show the highest support for eliminating student loan debt; nine in 10 support partial debt elimination, and half support full elimination.

Further, 40% of Black voters indicated they want the Biden-Harris Administration to ensure that any student admitted into a public college can graduate without taking on student loans, and another 40% say they would never vote for a candidate who opposes student loan debt elimination.

“After Black voters delivered the presidency for Joe Biden and turned the tide in Georgia, the federal government has a responsibility to respond urgently to the needs of our communities, including the elimination of student loan debt,” said Arisha Hatch, Color Of Change vice president and chief of campaigns. “The student loan debt crisis is not just a national economic issue — it is also a racial justice issue at its core. Our new poll provides a window into its long-lasting, disproportionate impact on Black communities, illustrating the ways in which it correlates to the racial injustices Black Americans face across all aspects of our lives. Alleviating the life-altering burden of student loan debt would allow Black Americans to reap the full benefits associated with higher education and be able to pass along generational wealth — a critical component of closing the racial wealth gap.”

Amid a global pandemic and economic recession that has disproportionately impacted Black communities across all fronts, student loan debt elimination remains among the most effective policies to help repair centuries of systemic racism. 

Due to a lack of government-backed programs and resources to help alleviate the burden of student debt and expand access to affordable higher education, Black people continue to be shut out of key pathways to upward mobility, which in turn exacerbates the ever-widening racial wealth gap. According to the poll, Black student loan borrowers have been forced to defer major life events and opportunities due to their debts. Without these crushing debts:

  • 73% said they would save for retirement
  • 53% would buy a home instead of renting
  • 49% would live in a different neighborhood
  • 48% would be more likely to leave a job where they’re facing discrimination
  • 30% would seek to start their own small-business

“I’m one of many Black women who graduated from college during the Great Recession and are still crushed by student loan debt over a decade later,” said Hadiyah Daché, a 34 year-old small business owner in Oakland, California and a graduate of Clark Atlanta University who currently holds more than $32,000 in student loan debt. “I invested in my higher education because of the promise of being freed from poverty — but instead, my student loan debt has me still struggling to make ends meet. Even though I’ve worked my way up the career ladder in the tech industry and successfully launched my own business, I can’t save money for retirement, let alone buy a home. As an active voter, I’m expecting the Biden-Harris administration to translate their campaign promises into policy and eliminate student debt now so that millions of Black people like me have the chance to build a better future for ourselves, our families, and our communities.”

A large majority of Black voters (89%) believe rising student loan debt constitutes a national crisis and 91% agree the cost of higher education makes college unattainable. In fact, the cost of obtaining a higher education degree is a primary reason why many Black voters did not complete a four-year degree, with 64% of Black registered voters who never attended a post-secondary institution indicating they shunned college because of student loan debt. Additionally, 70% believe higher education is no longer worth the cost for most students.

Color Of Change and its millions of members are calling on Congress and the Biden-Harris administration to enact immediate measures to eliminate federal student loan debt. The organization asserts the recently-introduced resolution in Congress calling on President Bident to use executive action to eliminate up to $50,000 of student loans for all borrowers marks a positive step forward, but encourages the federal government to go further by urgently enacting measures in support of full student loan debt elimination.

A detailed summary of key findings from Color Of Change’s poll can be found here.

Methodology:

Global Strategy Group conducted an online survey of 803 nationwide registered voters, with an oversample of 120 Black registered voters, between January 6th and January 10th, 2021. The margin of error at the 95% confidence interval is +/- 3.5% for the base of nationwide registered voters. The margin of error at the 95% confidence interval is +/- 8.9% for the oversample of Black registered voters. The margin of error on sub-samples is greater.

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About Color Of Change:

Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over 7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more humane and less hostile world for Black people in America. Visit www.colorofchange.org.

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