I think a lot of millennials want student loan forgiveness from their debts incurred from the early 2000's-2012 or so because the attitudes towards college changed so dramatically and quickly. This is completely anecdotal, but I'm sure my experience reflects many out there:
I entered college in 2009, went to an out of state school to be a music major. The reason I chose the program was because it is one of the best in the country, and in my 18 year old mind I figured that I was following the logical path to a lucrative career as a professional musician. Because if I could get into this school, that meant I could get a good job later down the line. Not only that, but the prevailing attitude at the time was that it wasn't the TYPE of degree you got that counted, but just the fact that you earned one would guarantee a job somewhere by someone in the future.
As a high schooler I was taught employers wanted to see that bachelor's degree, and if you get that then your future income will far surpass the bloke who only has a high school degree. No mention of the fact that employers want to see a resume, work experience, volunteer experience, certifications, networking, yada yada yada. Just get the degree I was told. And go to the best school possible. So that's what I did.
As you can imagine, I had no concept of what finances meant, what loans entailed, what interest was and how it accrued. I just got the loans I needed each semester and went from there. It wasn't until the usmmer after my freshman year that I realized that the job market for a musician of my skill set was fully saturated and tiny. And after just two semesters, I was already staring at around $20k in debt in pursuit of a career with no promise of financial stability. Music isn't something like nursing, accounting, or engineering where you can walk out college with a pertinent degree, certifications, and some work experience via internships/clinicals into a wide open job market.
So after some soul searching, I left music behind after my sophomore year and transferred schools. The final damage? $45k for two years of college. I fortunately either received scholarships or paid my own way through the rest of undergrad without adding to the loan total.
I can see how a person in my position would feel jilted, misinformed, and led down the wrong path by the powers at be who were supposed to be looking out for my well-being. Why should I pay any money back when I took out that money without a full understanding of what I was doing? It isn't fair! And those financial institutions don't NEED that money. They're doing just fine.
But I'm not that kind of guy, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it). Did I f**k up? You bet. On MANY levels. I could have gone to a cheaper school and studied the same thing. I could have actually studied something useful. Or I could have left after that first year and not incurred another $25k in debt. And was I properly informed? No. But guess what? I signed my name on those loan papers, just like millions of other Americans. And I have enough honor and integrity to fully carry out the terms of the agreement into which I signed. It sucks, but I'm a man of principle, and I'm going to get out from under this debt. I'm down to $10k now, and I hope to be debt free within 5 years, if not sooner.
So if you don't get anything out of my spiel, please understand these points:
1. Attitudes towards college, education, and finances have dramatically shifted in the past 10-15 years.
2. Students now have way more information in regards to educational opportunities and obligations that 10-15 years ago.
3. The value of a degree has diminished over time
4. Not all millennial's are demanding student loan forgiveness. Some have a little character and are willing to pay theirs off fair and square. At the end of the day I think that's what everyone should do. Whether you were misinformed or uninformed when you agreed to that loan amount, you still agreed, and you still have an obligation to pay your debts.