Mark Huelsman, associate director for policy and research at Demos, said the idea of loan forgiveness is politically salient for many voters because it addresses an issue they are dealing with today. The Warren proposal would also extend debt forgiveness on federal student loans to individuals who attended private and for-profit institutions, where free college plans address costs at public institutions.
“There was a pretty robust push for bold solutions on college affordability and expanding what was possible from a policy standpoint,” Huelsman said. “It’s taken a little longer to coalesce around a solution for outstanding student loans.”
One reason for that development is an evolving understanding of challenges with loan repayment among researchers who track student loan debt.
“There was an assumption that the student debt problem was concentrated among those at for-profit colleges or predatory programs. Or it was seen as a problem with repayment and not necessarily with debt itself,” he said. “That has shifted over the last couple of years.”