Although heavy student loan debt is on the minds of young people in the run up to election day, their main criterion for choosing which candidate to vote for seems to be who will do the most to shrink unemployment in the next four years. Generation Opportunity, a non-profit dedicated to raising the proportion of voters between the ages of 18 and 29, has been canvassing the political and social views of young Americans — and their data shows that the way the 18-29 demographic assigns importance to issues is quite different from conventional wisdom.
Paul T. Conway, who heads up Generation Opportunity, says that while politicians are playing up what they will do to lower interest rates on student loans, college students and graduates appear to care more about landing a full-time job after leaving school than saving a few points on their loan balances. They want to be reassured that after investing a lot of money into a college degree, they will have the opportunity to become independent and be able to plan for the future.
It is also heartening to find out that, for the most part, young voters aren’t interested in the government lending a helping hand, but rather want access to better job opportunities so they have more control over their own fate. Many don’t mind high loan balances as much as they mind the fact that they might not get into a position that would allow them to repay.
“This generation is very savvy – they are used to customizing everything from their coffees to their iPhones and do not appreciate the lack of choice in the most significant issues they face: planning for their future and building a career. The more politicians avoid discussing details on how they will get government out of the way of full-time job creation and reverse record high youth unemployment, the more politicians are viewed as either disingenuous or completely out of touch with the day-to-day concerns of young Americans. It should come as no surprise that young people don’t believe their interests are being represented in Washington and plan on making their voices heard in the presidential election in November.
Fueling their concerns are recent studies that show both a growth in student loan balances and a decline of opportunity for college graduates. Data collected by Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access & Success indicates that the loans carried by an average graduate this year went up by more than $1,000 from last year to an average of $26,600. At the same time, research out of Rutgers shows that only about 51% of recent college grads are currently employed full-time — a combination of factors that substantially alarms the Millennials as they prepare to go to the polls this November.