Where do Republican presidential primary debate candidates stand on student loan forgiveness?

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The Republican presidential primary is heating up, with six candidates expected to appear on the stage in California next week for the second GOP debate, hosted by Fox Business.

One key question that may be on many voters’ minds is where the GOP hopefuls stand on student loan forgiveness. 

President Biden announced a proposal more than one year ago to wipe out up to $20,000 in debt per borrower; however, the Supreme Court struck down the plan at the end of June.

Since then, the White House has announced other efforts to reduce student loan debt, including wiping out $39 billion of debt owed by more than 804,000 borrowers whose debts have been outstanding for more than 20 years. 

However, many Republican candidates have been critical of Biden’s efforts to erase student loan debt for millions of borrowers.  

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Here is where some of the contenders stand on the issue:

Ron DeSantis: 

The Florida governor does not support broad student loan forgiveness.

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However, he has suggested that universities should be forced to pick up the tab if former students are unable to pay back their loans. 

Ron DeSantis speaks at Heritage Foundation

“They should be responsible for defaulted student loan debt,” DeSantis said in June at a South Carolina campaign event. “If you produce somebody that can’t pay it back, that’s on you.”

Vivek Ramaswamy:

The “anti-woke” businessman has condemned Biden’s student loan plan, arguing it “tilts the scales in the wrong direction” in an August post on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.

“Biden’s student loan forgiveness disaster is effectively a regressive tax disguised as a progressive policy,” Ramaswamy said at the time. 

Vivek Ramaswamy wears suit and tie as he speaks into microphone at Iowa event

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He has called for eliminating the Department of Education.

Nikki Haley:

The former South Carolina governor praised the Supreme Court for striking down the president’s debt forgiveness plan.

Nikki Haley

“A president cannot just wave his hand and eliminate loans for students he favors, while leaving out all those who worked hard to pay back their loans or made other career choices. The Supreme Court was right to throw out Joe Biden’s power grab,” she said in June on X.

Mike Pence:

The former vice president sided with the six conservative Supreme Court justices who rejected Biden’s debt plan. He also sought credit for having “played a role in appointing three of the Justices that ensured today’s welcomed decision.” 

Mike Pence Republican GOP New Hampshire 2023

“Joe Biden’s massive trillion-dollar student loan bailout subsidizes the education of elites on the backs of hardworking Americans,” Pence said on X. “And it was an egregious violation of the Constitution for him to attempt to do so unilaterally with the stroke of the executive pen.”

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Tim Scott:

The South Carolina governor also welcomed the overturn of Biden’s debt plan, calling it a “victory for common sense.” 

Scott, along with other Republican senators, unveiled a proposal in mid-June to address the issues regarding the “skyrocketing” cost of higher education and the growing amount of student loan debt.

Senator Tim Scott South Carolina

The proposal – dubbed the Lowering Education Costs and Debt Act – contains five bills. If passed, it would reform the college data reporting system to make information about outcomes at universities, such as graduation rates and post-graduate debt, more readily available. 

It would also require transparency from colleges and universities regarding the costs associated with attending that institution, and require that prospective students be provided with additional information about their loans.

Chris Christie:

Christie, the former New Jersey governor, has slammed Biden’s loan plan. He called it “illegal” and warned it would exacerbate high inflation and encourage universities to increase tuition even more. 

Chris Christie first Republican GOP debate 2023

“He knows he’s done something that’s illegal and over the top,” Christie said on ABC’s “This Week” in August 2022. “It does nothing to control college costs. The reason people have higher loans is because college is more expensive. And this does not make college less expensive, it makes it more expensive.”

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