AARP AARP States Virginia Voters

2021 Virginia Election Survey: Likely Voters Support Easing Burden of Student Debt

Student Loan Application
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Summary of Key Findings

Nearly half (44%) of all voters say that they or a loved one has faced challenges due to student debt, including 59% of voters 18-49 years-old and almost 3-in-10 voters 65+.

One-third of voters 18-49 say student debt prevented them or a loved one from getting needed health care; 60% of voters 50-64 say that they or loved ones couldn’t save for retirement; and 1-in-6 (17%) of voters ages 65-plus say that student debt prevented them or loved ones from retiring.

Almost 6-in-10 likely voters (59%) – with nearly identical support among age groups – support an increase of state government support for public universities so more people can afford college tuition.

More than 3-in-4 (77%) of likely voters say the state government should protect borrowers from predatory loan practices and increase oversight of the largely unregulated student loan servicer industry.

Survey of 800 Virginia Registered Likely Voters Age 18+ conducted by Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University on behalf of AARP, August 15-23, 2021. Margin of error +/-3.6%

The full research report will explore how voters across the state feel about – and expect candidates to address – key health and financial security challenges that impact Virginians of all ages.


Student Debt Questions

1. In 2020, Americans owed $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, second only to mortgage debt, which has challenged their ability to do things like save for retirement or buy homes. Have you or a loved one faced challenges due to student debt?




Total (%)18-49 (%)50-64 (%)65+ (%)
 N800283217300
Yes44594629
No55395470
Don’t Know1202





Total (%)White




(%)
Black




(%)
Other (%)Hispanic (%)
N8005521608938
Yes4438644834
No5561365163
Don’t Know12113





Total (%)Male




(%)
Female




(%)
 N800392408
Yes444346
No555653
Don’t Know112





Total (%)Northern (%)Richmond-Central (%)Hampton Roads-East (%)South/Southwest




/West (%)
 n800253190190167
Yes4442494641
No5557515357
Don’t Know12012





Total (%)Very Liberal/ Liberal (%)Moderate




(%)
Very Conservative/ Conservative




(%)
n762208265289
Yes44614236
No55365864
Don’t Know1310





Total (%)Urban (%)Suburban




(%)
Rural




(%)
n800122407271
Yes44454641
No55545358
Don’t Know1121





Total (%)HS or lessVocational/




Tech training (%)
Some College




(%)
College Grad or more




(%)
n78412049223392
Yes4523494849
No5477514951
Don’t Know10041

2. [If yes] Has student loan debt prevented you or a loved one from…[INSERT ITEM]




Percentage Saying YesTotal (%)18-49 (%)50-64 (%)65+ (%)
 n35416710186
Retiring 28303417
Saving for retirement60676045
Buying a home44534229
Buying a car38473622
Opening a business29343119
Changing jobs33203935
Getting health care you need29332824




Total (%)White



(%)
Black



(%)
Other (%)Hispanic



(%)
 n3552101024313
Retiring2824382369
Saving for retirement6056744577
Buying a home4438554362
Buying a car3836472346
Opening a business2918562157
Changing jobs3331441729
Getting health care you need2930292654




Total (%)Male



(%)
Female



(%)
 n354167187
Retiring282631
Saving for retirement606060
Buying a home444245
Buying a car383540
Opening a business293029
Changing jobs333233
Getting health care you need292830




Total (%)Northern (%)Richmond-Central (%)Hampton Roads-East (%)South/Southwest



/West (%)
 n355106948768
Retiring2821323328
Saving for retirement6057626653
Buying a home4451434038
Buying a car3846353529
Opening a business2929263527
Changing jobs3336332932
Getting health care you need2929303224




Total (%)Liberal/



Very Liberal (%)
Moderate (%)Conservative/  Very Conservative (%)
 n356127111104
Retiring28323120
Saving for retirement60736146
Buying a home44564429
Buying a car38543620
Opening a business29352823
Changing jobs33413322
Getting health care you need29352625




Total (%)Urban (%)Suburban



(%)
Rural



(%)
 n355122407271
Retiring28382823
Saving for retirement60786249
Buying a home44464935
Buying a car38434030
Opening a business29353222
Changing jobs33463327
Getting health care you need29343517




Total (%)HS or lessVocational /Tech training (%)Some College



(%)
College Grad or more



(%)
 n3552824105190
Retiring2818293226
Saving for retirement6031676461
Buying a home4446294644
Buying a car3829254238
Opening a business2932123428
Changing jobs3325173235
Getting health care you need293683427


3. Do you agree or disagree with the following statements related to college affordability? If you are unsure, please say that.

  • A. State governments should increase their financial support for public universities so more people can afford college tuition.



Total (%)18-49 (%)50-64 (%)65+ (%)
 n800283217300
Agree59606057
Disagree29312826
Unsure1281115
Don’t Know1011




Total (%)White



(%)
Black



(%)
Other (%)Hispanic



(%)
 n8005521608938
Agree5953884368
Disagree293364429
Unsure12136113
Don’t Know11010




Total (%)Male



(%)
Female



(%)
 n800392408
Agree595663
Disagree293324
Unsure121113
Don’t Know101




Total (%)Northern (%)Richmond-Central (%)Hampton Roads-East (%)South/Southwest



/West (%)
 n800253190190167
Agree5963585756
Disagree2923293429
Unsure121312814
Don’t Know10111




Total (%)Liberal/ Very Liberal (%)Moderate (%)Conservative/ Very Conservative (%)
 n764208265291
Agree59886038
Disagree2942550
Unsure1281511
Don’t Know1001




Total (%)Urban (%)Suburban



(%)
Rural



(%)
 n800122407271
Agree59696152
Disagree29222635
Unsure1291213
Don’t Know1011




Total (%)HS or lessVocational /Tech training (%)Some College



(%)
College Grad or more



(%)
 n78212149221391
Agree6053576460
Disagree2831312728
Unsure111712911
Don’t Know10011

  • B. State and federal governments should provide stronger oversight and regulations to prevent student loan servicers and debt collectors from engaging in deceptive and abusive practices.


Total (%)18-49 (%)50-64 (%)65+ (%)
 n800283217300
Agree83858779
Disagree1011811
Unsure6459
Don’t Know0001




Total (%)White



(%)
Black



(%)
Other (%)Hispanic



(%)
 n8005531608838
Agree8383946890
Disagree101132111
Unsure663100
Don’t Know00110




Total (%)Male



(%)
Female



(%)
 n800392408
Agree838185
Disagree10147
Unsure657
Don’t Know011




Total (%)Northern (%)Richmond-Central (%)Hampton Roads-East (%)South/Southwest



/West (%)
 n800253190190167
Agree8385848478
Disagree108101311
Unsure675310
Don’t Know00111




Total (%)Liberal/ Very Liberal (%)Moderate (%)Conservative/ Very Conservative (%)
 n764208265291
Agree83979069
Disagree101720
Unsure62310
Don’t Know0001




Total (%)Urban (%)Suburban



(%)
Rural



(%)
 n800122407271
Agree83908381
Disagree1071111
Unsure6368
Don’t Know0010




Total (%)HS or lessVocational /Tech training (%)Some College



(%)
College Grad or more



(%)
 n78211949222392
Agree8474808487
Disagree10131699
Unsure613463
Don’t Know00011

  • C. State governments should protect borrowers from predatory loan practices and provide oversight of the largely unregulated student loan servicer industry.



Total (%)18-49 (%)50-64 (%)65+ (%)
 n799283217299
Agree77788174
Disagree1112911
Unsure1191113
Don’t Know1101




Total (%)White



(%)
Black



(%)
Other (%)Hispanic



(%)
 n8015521608839
Agree7776916182
Disagree111042610
Unsure11134138
Don’t Know11100




Total (%)Male



(%)
Female



(%)
 n800392408
Agree777976
Disagree11139
Unsure11814
Don’t Know101




Total (%)Northern (%)Richmond-Central (%)Hampton Roads-East (%)South/Southwest



/West (%)
 n800253190190167
Agree7779788467
Disagree1111111112
Unsure111012519
Don’t Know10002




Total (%)Liberal /Very Liberal (%)Moderate (%)Conservative/ Very Conservative   (%)
 n764208265291
Agree77948561
Disagree112820
Unsure114718
Don’t Know1002




Total (%)Urban (%)Suburban



(%)
Rural



(%)
 n800122407271
Agree77907970
Disagree1151213
Unsure115917
Don’t Know1002




Total (%)HS or lessVocational /Tech training (%)Some College



(%)
College Grad or more



(%)
 n78211949222392
Agree7768678082
Disagree111118612
Unsure112014127
Don’t Know11020

Demographics

EDUC: Could you tell me the highest level of school or college you had the opportunity to complete:
               

High school or less                                15

Vo-Tech                                                    6

Some college                                          28

College or more                                     49

HISPANIC: Do you consider yourself to be Hispanic or Latino?             

Yes                                                           4                                                             

No                                                           94                                          

Dk/ref (vol)                                             2                            

RACE: Do you consider yourself to be:        

White                                                     69                               

Black or African American               20          

Other                                                      11          

RELIG: What is your religious preference, are you Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, another religion, or no religion?

Protestant                                              41                                          

Christian (non-specific)                      12          

Catholic                                                 13          

Jewish                                                      1            

Other                                                        6          

None                                                      21          

Dk/ref (vol)                                             5             

IDEOL: When it comes to your ideology, would you consider yourself to be…

Very conservative                                 9

Conservative                                        17

Moderate                                              33

Liberal                                                   25

Very liberal                                           11

Dk/ref(vol)                                              5

PARTY: In politics today, do you generally consider yourself to be a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent?

Republican                                           28          

Democrat                                              37

Independent                                         32

No Preference/party (vol)                    4  

Dk/Ref (vol)                                           3

PARTYLN

Lean Republican                                 39                          

Lean Democrat                                    34          

Independent                                         17

Dk/ref (vol)                                           10

AGE: (Recorded as exact year of birth)

18-24                                                       4             

25-34                                                       8          

35-44                                                     18          

45-54                                                     14          

55 & older                                             56          

INCOME: And, just for statistical purposes, in which of the following categories does your family income fall?

Under $25,000                                       5          

$25-$49,999                                         16

$50-$74,999                                         16

$75-$99,999                                         17

$100,000-$149,999                            17

Over $150,000                                     17

Dk/ref (vol)                                           12

CELL/LANDLINE

Cell                                                         35          

Landline                                                65

SEX:

Male                                                       49

Female                                                   51

REGION

Northern Virginia                                                 32

Richmond-Central                              24

Hampton Roads-East                         24

South/Southwest/West                       21

Methodology

The results of this poll are based on 800 interviews of registered Virginia voters who are likely general election voters, including 277 on landline and 523 on cell phone, conducted August 15-23, 2021. A likely general election voter is one who has voted in at least two of the last four general elections or is newly registered in the last 12 months and indicates they are enthusiastic and plan to vote in the upcoming November 2 election. The margin of error for the whole survey is +/-3.6% at the 95% level of confidence. This means that if 50% of respondents indicate a topline view on an issue, we can be 95% confident that the population’s view on that issue is somewhere between 46.4% and 53.6%. The margin of error for subgroups may be higher. All error margins have been adjusted to account for the survey’s design effect, which is 1.1 in this survey. The design effect is a factor representing the survey’s deviation from a simple random sample and takes into account decreases in precision due to sample design and weighting procedures. In addition to sampling error, the other potential sources of error include non-response, question wording, and interviewer error. Percentages may not equal 100 due to rounding. The response rate (AAPOR RRI Standard Definition) for the survey was 12%. Five callbacks were employed in the fielding process. Live calling was conducted by Dynata. The data reported here are weighted using an iterative weighting process on region, age, race, sex, and education to reflect as closely as possible the population of Virginia’s November 2, 2021 electorate.

For more information, contact Kate Bridges at kbridges@aarp.org
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