The Definitive Guide to Student Loans

Pete Buttigieg has $130,000 in student loan debt—here's where he stands on the issue

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has made a name for himself as the first true millennial presidential candidate. One aspect of his personal finances puts him squarely in that demographic: He and his husband are shouldering six figures-worth of student loan debt.

Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, have over $130,000 in student loan debt, according to financial disclosures reviewed by the Associated Press. That's well above the national average of $37,172 per borrower in 2017. Buttigieg graduated from Harvard University in 2004, and Chasten has a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin and a master's degree from DePaul University.

Student debt in the U.S. now totals almost $1.6 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve, and seven in 10 seniors graduate with debt, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.

It's not just an issue that affects younger generations. Americans over the age of 50 owed more than $260 billion in student debt in 2018, according to the Federal Reserve. In 2014, the total for the same age group was $36 billion. Almost 40% of borrowers over 65 are in default.

Buttigieg's salary as mayor of South Bend was $112,314.40 in 2018, as CNBC Make It previously reported. Chasten was a teacher in South Bend but is currently campaigning full time.

Where candidates stand on the student loan debt issue

Student loan debt has become a major issue among 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. Some, like U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.), have proposed wiping out college debt for around 75% of borrowers, while others, including U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Kamala Harris (D-Ca.), have proposed allowing borrowers to refinance federal loans at lower interest rates. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has proposed making college completely free for all.

Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, has released a slew of policy proposals related to college affordability. He has proposed expanding the Pell grant program and restructuring the income-driven repayment system. He and Warren both proposed ending public funding of for-profit institutions.

Buttigieg's proposed policy would make public college debt-free for low-income students by expanding Pell grants. His website also states that "middle income families" would pay zero tuition to attend public colleges.

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