Last month, President Biden unveiled his student loan relief plan, which will forgive up to $10,000 in loans for most borrowers and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. It was a polarizing development at the time, with Americans more likely to strongly oppose the move than strongly support it, according to CivicScience data.
But with loan forgiveness applications likely to arrive in the coming months, CivicScience gauged how the policy has changed the spending plans of borrowers who are set to benefit from student loan forgiveness, or if it has at all.
A survey of U.S. adults finds that more than one-quarter of borrowers eligible for loan forgiveness plan to use the extra flexibility to pay down other debt, while roughly one-fifth are likely to spend it on necessities and another fifth to spend it on non-necessities. Ten percent of eligible adults plan to use the money on a major purchase (home or car).
The youngest borrowers outpace the Gen Pop in their intention to save the extra money or spend it on necessities. Almost 10% of borrowers in the 25-34 age bracket plan to allocate the forgiven loans toward buying a house, which outpaces any other age group. Older borrowers with forgiven loans are far and away the most likely to exercise the new flexibility to pay down other debt.
The highest earners impacted by loan forgiveness are the most likely to pay down other debt and the least likely to spend it on non-necessities. Americans earning under $50,000 are just as likely as the Gen Pop to buy a house with the added flexibility, and those in the $50,000-$100,000 income bracket exceed the Gen Pop in likelihood to use the money on a major purchase of a home or car.
Student loan forgiveness has also offered a window of opportunity to Americans who claim to be financially worse off since before the pandemic, with 12% intending to use the money on a major purchase (6% for homes, 6% for cars). Those with forgiven loans who are better off now than prior to the pandemic are more likely to spend on necessities and non-necessities, and are less likely to save than the Gen Pop.
Travel enthusiasts are the least likely to use the money on non-necessities – although some travelers might consider the lifestyle a necessity. Those less keen on traveling are the most likely to allocate loan flexibility to necessities and non-necessities alike.
It remains to be seen what legal challenges, if any, President Biden’s plan might face — and how borrowers would react to any sudden setbacks. But for now, those benefiting from student loan forgiveness have a wide array of plans that range from life-changing purchases to just easing the strain on everyday expenses.