MADISON, Wis. — Today Gov. Scott Walker introduced his 2017-19 budget plan. And despite spending billions of dollars over hundreds of pages of proposals, nearly one million state student loan borrowers with over $19 billion in debt are again left with no help
The following are the statements of One Wisconsin Now Program Director Analiese Eicher:
“Gov. Walker’s budget has a huge deficit of common sense, again failing to include student loan reforms like allowing borrowers to refinance, just like you can with a mortgage.
“On Walker’s watch, Wisconsin has risen to top five in the nation for the percentage of graduates with student loan debt. But again, his budget fails to include any relief from a system that’s treating nearly one million state student loan borrowers unfairly.
“These people worked hard to get their education and took on the personal responsibility to pay for it. They’re not asking for a bailout but they ought to be able to refinance their student loans, just like you can with a mortgage.”
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Since 2011, under the policies of Gov. Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature, funding for higher education has been cut by record amounts, financial aid has been dramatically underfunded leaving tens of thousands of eligible students without help and tuition for University of Wisconsin students has been increased by double digits.
The result, unsurprisingly, has been a growing crisis of student loan debt. Wisconsin is in the top five states in the nation for the percentage of graduates with student loan debt. The state also ranks sixteenth for the amount of debt carried by graduates, with the average University of Wisconsin student matriculating with an average debt of nearly $30,000.
Despite having been first introduced in 2014, and enjoying strong support across the political spectrum, Gov. Walker has steadfastly refused to support a state-based plan that would help student loan borrowers refinance their loans to take advantage of lower interest rates.