MADISON, Wis. — In the waning days of the final legislative floor period before the Fall 2016 elections Republicans in the state Assembly are trying to pull a bait and switch on nearly one million Wisconsin student loan borrowers – claiming they’re doing something to help while pushing a plan that denies any help to refinance their loans. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross noted that under Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled Senate and Assembly Wisconsin has gone from 10th to 3rd highest in the nation for percentage of college graduates with student loan debt.
“The contempt for hard working student loan borrowers on display by the legislators behind this bait and switch is appalling,” commented Ross. “Wisconsinites who took on the personal responsibility to pay for their education deserve to be treated fairly by the system. But instead of standing up and voting for real reforms, Gov. Walker and his fellow Republicans are ducking for political cover.”
Since 2013 Republicans in the state legislature and Gov. Walker have blocked the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act, legislation that would help Wisconsin borrowers to refinance their student loans, just like you can with a mortgage. The plan would extend an existing state tax deduction to include student loan payments and provide additional information and loan counseling to borrowers.
Instead, under Gov. Walker and the Republican controlled legislature, funding for the University of Wisconsin System and Technical Colleges has been reduced by nearly $1 billion when compared to the year before Walker entered office. In addition they have hiked tuition by 11% and so woefully underfunded financial aid that 41,000 students eligible for aid received none.
Ross noted that on the GOP’s watch, Wisconsin has gone from tenth to third highest in the nation for the percentage of graduates with student loan debt, 70 percent of class of 2014 graduates and the average student loan debt is now approaching $28,000.
He concluded, “Republicans are trying to pass off a scheme that denies every single person in Wisconsin with student debt any help lowering their monthly loan payment as a solution to the student loan debt crisis. It’s not, and anyone voting for this plan ought to be denounced for the fraud they’re trying to perpetrate on nearly one million of their fellow Wisconsinites with student loan debt.”