Everything You Think You Know about Student Loans is a Lie.

Alan Collinge
5 min readMay 20, 2024

The truth will surprise you.

When you mention the topic of “student loans” in casual conversation, most people have strong- and completely wrong- opinions about them. Unfortunately, the mainstream media is guilty of seeding and spreading blatant falsehoods about student debt, and the borrowers who hold it. Here are 5 examples that will surprise you.

Lie #1:

Student debt tends to be a younger person’s problem.


Older people outnumber younger people with student loans.

There are more people in the U.S. over the age of 35 with student loans today than under 35 today. This is even more pronounced for people over the age of 50 vs. people under the age of 25. What is most interesting: The older borrowers owe, on average, far more than their younger cohorts (despite having borrowed far less, typically), and this disparity grows as the age difference increases!

Source: U.S. Department of Education (Q4 2020)
Source: U.S. Department of Education (Q4 2020)

How odd it is that the media refuses to break this story!

Lie #2:

Most Student Loan Borrowers are Liberals.


50%-70% identify as Republican or Independent.

Pew Research shows that fully half of people who have been to college (both graduates and non-graduates) identify, politically, as either Republican or independent. Other polling data has shown that this could be as high as 70% for people who have been to colleges.

Source: Pew Research (2014)

Since the Pew Research in 2014, national trends have shown a slight shift, generally, to the right, and other research has shown a significant growth in independents in recent years, so the percentage of student loan borrowers who consider themselves Republicans of independents has surely grown since then.

So much for the “Young, liberal snowflake” stereotype!

Lie #3:

Student Debt is more of a problem in coastal, “blue” states.


The worst hurt states, by far, are Southern, “red” states.

When looking at average student loan debt levels, and comparing them with average earnings by state, it turns out that the ten worst states are all the Southern States. Even without the earnings consideration, the 4 worst states (Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia all lie below the Mason Dixon line).

Interestingly, the coastal, “blue” states like California, Massachusetts, and Washington are the least hurt states by this metric!

Another myth busted! Can we get a “Rebel Yell” against student loans?

Average student loan debt vs. average earnings, ten best and worst states

Lie #4:

Student loan cancellation is a “cost” to taxpayers.


The taxpayers have been repaid by the borrowers.

When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Higher Education Act into law in 1965, he declared that federal student loans would be “free of interest”:

Today, over $100 Billion in INTEREST is generated by federal student loans every year, added onto the nation’s debt, and owed to the Department of Education! Many years of data have showed, however, that borrowers have repaid essentially what they’ve borrowed.

Cancelling this profit is not a true cost to taxpayers.

Cancelling every nickel of outstanding federal student loan debt (unlike PPP loans or other government stimulus) requires $0 to be spent from the Treasury, $0 to be added to the national debt, and on balance, the taxpayers are breaking about even. Certainly the most recent cancellations we've seen from the Biden Administration have cost the taxpayers absolutely nothing:

Student loan cancellation in first 3.5 years of Biden’s presidency.

Given this, it’s clear that the taxpayers have managed to get tens or even hundreds of millions of citizens college educated for free, even with complete and total cancellation of all outstanding federal student loans (not just the relatively small amounts we are hearing about from the current President).

Opponents of cancellation are, in fact, insisting that the Department of Education make a profit on the loans. Even Donald Trump is asking why the government should be profiting on anything, much less student loans!

Here are some actual people who will gladly confirm that the loans have been repaid. Don’t believe the Spin!

Lie #5:

Student loan cancellation will largely “benefit the wealthy”.


The overwhelming majority of student loan borrowers are un-wealthy.

Wealthy people cannot get federal student loans. The vast majority of student loan borrowers fall in the bottom 80% of earners. What’s more: 85% of all borrowers had increasing loan balances and were never going to be able to repay their loans (hint: wealthy people don’t behind on their debts):

Two college professors with ties to the Treasury (Adam Looney, Kent Smetters) have generated heinously flawed “research” making these claims. The student loan industry and their defenders have gone to great lengths to seed the zeitgeist with this outrageously false claim.

This is probably the biggest “whopper” being told right now. 5 Pinnochios for sure!

There are far more lies than just these being told about student loans and student loan borrowers. See them at studentloanjustice.medium.com.

Also, see StudentLoanJustice.Org, and Sign our Petition!



Alan Collinge

I am Founder of StudentLoanJustice.Org, author of The Student Loan Scam (Beacon Press), and creator of the petition Change.Org/CancelStudentLoans