MADISON, Wis. — When the candidates for the Democratic nomination for President debate tonight in Wisconsin, they’ll be appearing in the state with the third highest percentage of college graduates with student loan debt in the nation, according to a recent study by The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS). One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross noted the contrast between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, both of whom support real solutions for college affordability and student loan debt, and 70-day Presidential candidate Scott Walker, whose policies have driven up debt in the Badger state and who opposes allowing Wisconsin borrowers to refinance their student loans, just like you a mortgage.
“There’s no debate that $1.3 trillion is an economic albatross and a barrier to 43 million Americans, including one million here in Wisconsin, from enjoying the fruits of the hard work they put in to get their education or job training,” commented Ross. “And it’s clear people like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are willing to fight to reform the system, while Scott Walker is not.”
Walker, whose presidential campaign officially lasted a mere 70 days despite spending vast stretches of time pursuing his own political ambition instead of doing his job as Governor, has implemented a series of policies that have driven student debt higher in Wisconsin. During his tenure, with the help of the Republican controlled legislature, he hiked University of Wisconsin tuition by double digits, so woefully underfunded financial aid that over 40,000 students eligible for help received none and cut nearly $1 billion from the budgets of the UW and state technical colleges.
According to the TICAS study, a comprehensive 50 state investigation of student loan debt for 2014, seventy percent of Wisconsin’s graduates have student loan debt, the third highest percentage in the nation, and up from tenth in 2011 when Walker was first elected. The average debt load of over $28,800 they carry ranks Wisconsin seventeenth nationally. The research also found that over the last decade Wisconsin graduates were saddled with a seventy four percent increase in the amount of debt upon graduation and that ten percent more graduates were leaving school with student debt.
Unfortunately for an estimated one million Wisconsin borrowers Gov. Walker, with the backing of the Republican controlled legislature, are denying any help lowering the monthly payments of student loan borrowers by helping them refinance their loans, just like you can with a mortgage.
Ross concluded, “Tonight Wisconsin and the nation will get to see a vivid contrast to Gov. Walker and the Republicans in the state legislature who have utterly failed to recognize how desperately common sense reforms are needed and how devastating the consequences of inaction are for families and our economy.”