Student Loan Debt Graduation Cap and Money
Press Release
September 22, 2016
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Mike Browne, Deputy Director
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Cody Oliphant

New Polls Find Overwhelming Support for Allowing Refinancing of Student Loans

Over 80 Percent of Survey Respondents in Three Swing State Senate Districts Back Allowing Wisconsin Student Loan Borrowers to Refinance

MADISON, Wis. — Public opinion research in key Wisconsin state Senate Districts by respected national pollster Paul Harstad finds “lopsided support” for allowing people to refinance their student loans, just like you can with a mortgage. Between 81 and 85 percent of those polled in state Senate Districts 12, 14 and 18 favored “pass[ing] a state law to help allow people with student loan debts to refinance their student loan interest rates – like borrowers can do with their home mortgage and car loans.”

The poll results can be found here.

“By overwhelming margins people agree we need reform, and allowing borrowers to refinance their loans has vast support across all parties and ideologies,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “These are stunning results. It’s the kind of bipartisan support in Wisconsin usually reserved for things like the Packers and three-day weekends.”

In a memo from Harstad to One Wisconsin Now on the question of allowing the refinancing of student loans key results from surveys of 1,849 likely voters include not just broad support, ranging between 81 and 85 percent of all voters, but intense support for refinancing. A 54 percent majority strongly favors allowing refinancing versus a mere 6 percent strongly opposing.

The results by district:

  • Senate District 12 voters favor student loan refinancing by a 81 percent to 14 percent margin
  • Senate District 14 voters favor student loan refinancing by a 85 percent to 13 percent margin
  • Senate District 18 voters favor student loan refinancing by a 84 percent to 11 percent margin

In addition, support spans across key demographics including:

  • Men: 81 percent support
  • Women: 86 percent support
  • Age 18-49: 88 percent support
  • Age 50-84: 80 percent support
  • Age 65+: 81 percent support
  • Liberals: 91 percent support
  • Moderates: 87 percent support
  • Conservatives: 78 percent support

Harstad noted, “… seldom these days does one find such lopsided support for issue proposals, especially by margins exceeding 6-to-1. One can only hope that elected officials and policymakers would not turn a deaf ear to such overwhelming voter sentiment …”

In 2013 and again in 2015, state legislation to help borrowers refinance their student loans was introduced in both the Wisconsin state Senate and Assembly. Republicans in control of both chambers, along with Gov. Scott Walker, blocked consideration of the measures.

Ross concluded, “There are more than 800,000 federal student loan borrowers in Wisconsin with over $19 billion in student debt. They worked hard to get their education and took on the personal responsibility to pay for it but the system today is treating them unfairly and it needs to be changed. By an overwhelming margin people across Wisconsin favor common sense reform to allow borrowers to refinance their loans. The choice for policymakers is to stand with them and for reform or against them and defend the unfair status quo.”

The polls were conducted by Harstad on behalf of the Greater Wisconsin Committee.

# # #

One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

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