Mike Davies
August 2016

Will Student Loans Boost Youth Turnout in 2016 Election?

This year’s election has contained some serious sights to see. College kids are concerned with student loan repayment over staying current in politics.

Source: CampusBooks.com

This year’s election has contained some serious sights to see. Whether you’re on one side of the spectrum or the other chances are you have strong opinions on today’s candidates. However, college students do not share the same concern. CampusBooks.com put out a recent survey that found 82% of the students surveyed said they had concerns about repaying their student loans. A staggering 66% of those students surveyed work part-time or full-time instead of putting full focus on school. Moreover, a total of 63% of the college students surveyed had student loans. While only 53% of students were politically active this election season.

Sadly, this is not all that surprising as this age group has the lowest voting turnout rate in general elections. “These voters have the lowest participation rates of any age group and part of that is because of less mobility,” said Donna Hoffman, an associate professor in the political science department at the University of Northern Iowa. “They may not always understand their stake in the system.”

Student loans are indeed a hot topic this election and all these students taking on debt. It appears so much so that we have seen a boost in turnout for the primary elections. The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE, found that people between the ages of 17 and 29 who cast their ballot were a greater number than in 2008 which was a year that saw a spike for the Democratic nomination. On the Republican side of things, CIRCLE showed a larger boost in voters when compared to 2008.

Although this may be true, part of the reason might have been Bernie Sanders who was very popular among that age group of votes. Consequently, only time will tell if the voters concerned about their student loans will show up and vote with their lack of dollar. But there is a more than slight chance they won’t but even if they do, “There’s also danger that their disillusionment because their candidate lost could result in them going to a third party candidate.” Hoffman said. Hoffman also pointed out that the Green Party and the Libertarian Party as two that often appeal to younger voters. A protest vote is another likely outcome, in which Sanders supporters throw their vote at Trump. “A disaffected voter, whatever age, is a disaffected voter,” said Hoffman.

Even so, if there is one thing that will make the youth vote turn out to polls it is going to be student loans. With a current, outrageous total of $1.3 Trillion of student loans outstanding, it would not be shocking to see record-setting numbers come out to vote. Especially, if one of the candidates can come up with a comprehensive solution to help today’s youth facing such tragic debt. Not only that but they have to get the college students to hear it.

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Mike Davies

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