Ilhan Omar Asked About the Dreams Student Debt Kills, and the Internet Answered


Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is the latest politician to ask social media users what they would do with their lives if they had their student loan debt canceled.

“What dreams would you be free to go after if your student debt was cancelled?” Omar asked on Twitter Tuesday, encouraging people to respond with the hashtag “#CancelStudentDebt” in both the replies to her tweet and across the platform.

Several people answered that they would buy a house. Others added they could also start a family, travel more, or open a savings account. Many were excited at the prospect of being able to afford groceries on a regular basis; as one user explained, canceled student debt would mean going grocery shopping without checking a bank account first.

These issues are common fodder for those who study debt. The Federal Reserve thinks there’s reason to believe student loan debt may have reduced homeownership figures among young people. A report from CNBC outlines the impact debt loads can have on family planning.

“The amount of student debt I have gives me daily anxiety. It is hard to say the amount of debt out loud. I am 47,” wrote Rosa A. Clemente, a former Green Party vice presidential candidate. “Not only do we need to #CancelStudentDebt we need to fight for it not to be included in credit reports, FICO scores, or any metric of creditworthiness.”

The issue of student loan debt is especially important to young voters, as polling indicates. According to the Federal Reserve, there is currently over $1.6 trillion of outstanding student loan debt owed across the country — that’s a massive increase from 2006, when the number was around $480 billion.

As of 2018, it was believed that debt was owed by as many as 44.7 million people (nearly 13.5% of the total estimated U.S. population and a bigger portion for younger generations), averaging out to $36,611 each. But averages aren’t everything, and Pew Research Center analysis of a 2018 Federal Reserve report found that, as of 2016, the median student loan debt owed was roughly $17,000.

If the median cost of a house is really $244,054, as the real estate website Zillow says, $36,611 is almost enough for a 15% down payment on a house; $17,000 could be a 7% down payment — the median down payment for first-time home buyers, according to BankRate.





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