The prospects for major changes in the cancellation of student loans depend largely on the outcome of the November elections, both presidential and parliamentary.

democratic presidential candidate Joe bidenJoe BidenUS Imposes Air Travel Restrictions To Belarus After Opposition Journalist TikTok Arrests Long-Time Microsoft Employee As Senior U.S. Lawyer Biden Calls For Unity Six Months After Capitol Riot MORE and President TrumpDonald Trump More than 535 indictments six months after riot on January 6: Pennsylvania Department of Justice dentist and Trump associate accused of groping patient TikTok names longtime Microsoft employee as top U.S. lawyer MORE offer very different proposals as to the size and scope of student debt cancellation, creating a crossroads that experts say could play a key role in how Americans approach higher education.

Student loans, which can take years or even decades to repay, cripple the personal finances of millions of American households, a burden that many economists and policymakers say will hold back consumer spending at a time when the economy is trying to slow down. come out of the worst. recession since the Great Depression.

“Much depends on the outcome of the election,” said Neal McCluskey, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, adding that a legislative fight for some type of student debt cancellation “might be plausible” over the course of the year. the next two years if the Democrats take control of Congress and the White House.

Even if Democrats win a majority in the House and Senate, they are likely to face an internal debate over how far to go with the loan cancellation. They will also need to involve some Republicans in the Senate unless they take the controversial step of removing legislative obstruction.

The proposals put forward by Biden and Trump both seek to alleviate student debt, but in radically different ways.

Under Biden’s plan, individuals would pay 5% of their discretionary income for student loan debt, followed by forgiveness after 20 years. People earning $ 25,000 or less per year would not be expected to make payments on their federal student loans and would not earn interest on their loans.

The plan would be associated with lower tuition fees to help reduce student loans.

Public colleges and universities would be tuition-free for families with incomes below $ 125,000, while two years of community college or tuition-free training programs would be offered to some students.

The key elements of Trump’s student loan plan were outlined in his budget proposal for fiscal 2020. Overall, his approach would combine several income-driven repayment programs into one. Among the programs that would be phased out is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which cancels federal student loan debts for full-time government or non-profit employees after a certain number of years.

Trump’s plan also calls for the payment of 12.5% ​​of discretionary income with forgiveness after 15 years for undergraduate debt and 30 years for graduate students.

McCluskey said the two plans demonstrate “a traditional difference between Democrats and Republicans.”

“Biden’s plan is to expand or dramatically increase the usability of student loan programs for borrowers, as well as efforts to make college less expensive for students in general,” he said. “The Trump administration’s approach is not so student-friendly, at least in the short term. While not particularly hostile, I think neither.

U.S. households have accumulated more than $ 1.54 trillion in student loan debt, almost double in a decade from $ 855 billion, according to figures compiled by the Federal Reserve. By comparison, the financial burden on students and graduates outweighs the country’s continued build-up of credit card debt.

Whitney Barkley-Denney, senior policy adviser at the Center for Responsible Lending, argued that the Biden student loan repayment program works more for borrowers who are struggling to repay their debt.

“That monthly payment really matters,” Barkley-Denney said. “How much money you have to pay each month on your student loans is critical when it comes to paying it off, or even keeping your head above water.”

Barkley-Denney added that the inclusion of some type of debt relief in both candidates’ plans was notable.

“The bigger story here is how quickly the narrative around student loan cancellation has evolved and the idea that we need to write off some student debt,” she said, noting that polls recent years indicate bipartisan support for student debt reduction.

The president recently passed a student loan forbearance following an August 8 announcement that allowed borrowers to forgo federal student loan payments until December 31 without earning interest. This decision follows a similar pause initiated by the administration on payments from the start of the pandemic.

Brandon Barford, partner of Washington-based Beacon Policy Advisors, said Trump’s willingness to take these steps “shows how much the conversation has shifted to the left on student loan issues.”

While both candidates have plans to change the state of higher education, the ability to put those plans into action depends largely on the outcome of the 2020 election.

Barford has said whether Biden or Trump are victorious, he expects they “will be interested in a one-sided approach.”

“Trump is doing his thing unilaterally because direct negotiations have broken down,” he said. “I think Biden will adopt, after pushing enough, the [Sen.] Elizabeth warrenElizabeth WarrenFirst Republican announces Massachusetts gubernatorial candidacy Some Democrats put activism above climate action Young Republicans see GOP change: “From outright denial to climate caucus” MORE [D-Mass.] approach she launched in her presidential campaign using plain language and the Department of Education’s history of actions to essentially choose various categories of borrowers and to cancel all or part of their student loans.