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By Wide, Bipartisan Majority, New Poll Affirms Key Progressive Demand: Congress Should Act to Lessen Crushing Student Debt

New poll comes on heels of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) saying that students are "shouldering a trillion and a half dollars in student loan debt and it's crushing an entire generation."

Demonstrators hold letters reading Higher Ed Not Debt

"People deserve a future unencumbered by the burden of student debt," said Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). (Photo: Joe Brusky/flickr/cc)

A new poll out Monday points to a progressive mandate for the 116th Congress—it's "extremely important" to do something about the crushing student debt crisis, now at a record high $1.465 trillion, a bipartisan majority says. 

The Politico/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health survey asked Americans to prioritize six educational policy areas, and according to a bipartisan majority—79 percent—"finding ways to lessen student debt" should be the top priority. That belief was backed by 87 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of Republicans who said tackling student debt was "extremely important."

The poll also revealed strong support for "increasing spending on K-12 public education."  Overall, 76 percent of respondents said it was an extremely important priority, landing it the number two spot. That strong backing came from 88 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans.

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As Siona Peterous recently laid out at Inequality.org, "With more than 44.5 million people in some type of student loan debt, it's increasingly becoming part of the platforms of high-profile progressive policymakers."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), for one, has denounced the "grotesque amounts" of education-related debt plaguing former students, while newly-sworn in Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) recently declared student debt "nothing but a continuation of class divides that persist because of structural inequity."

"People deserve a future unencumbered by the burden of student debt," she said, "and the money they save will be immediately put back into our economy."

For her part, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who recently threw her name into the 2020 presidential race, said on Saturday that students are "shouldering a trillion and a half dollars in student loan debt and it's crushing an entire generation."

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