russ feingold
Press Release
June 3, 2016

Russ Renews Call for Refinancing of Federal Student Loans

Feingold Pushes Help for Student Loan Borrowers While Sen. Ron Johnson Stands With Owner of Disgraced for-Profit College

MADISON, Wis. — Russ Feingold is standing with nearly one million student loan borrowers in Wisconsin and renewing the call for common sense reform to allow them to refinance their loans, just like you can with a mortgage. Meanwhile, current U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, who has voted multiple times against allowing the refinancing of federal student loans, is standing with Donald Trump, the owner of the for-profit Trump University. The now defunct institution is the subject of multiple lawsuits making allegations that students were scammed out of significant sums of money and left deep in debt.

“Russ Feingold gets it,” commented One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “Allowing student loan borrowers the chance to refinance their loans like you can a mortgage is more than just common sense, it’s critical for middle class Wisconsinites.”

In contrast, Ross noted that U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson has publicly declared that more for-profit colleges, like Trump University, would somehow help resolve a student loan debt crisis that touches over 43 million Americans with over $1.3 trillion in debt. Millionaire Sen. Johnson has also previously pointed to students themselves as causes of the crises of student loan debt and college affordability, based on his experience in the mid-1970s, when his tuition at the University of Minnesota was 1,700 percent lower than it is today. He has also suggested that the federal government should not be involved in helping students with low interest loans or other means to help fund students’ higher education.

While no longer operating, Trump University, run by Johnson’s pick for President of the United States, is mired in multiple lawsuits with charges covering allegations like racketeering and illegal business practices.

Original research by One Wisconsin Institute found that student loan debt has a significant and negative effect on critical drivers of the economy like new car and home sales, as borrowers are significantly more likely to buy a used versus new car and rent versus own their home.

According to figures from the federal government, there are in excess of 800,000 Wisconsinites owing a collective $19 billion in federal student loan debt. If, as Feingold is advocating, these borrowers were allowed to refinance their loans it is estimated that over 500,000 individuals would take advantage of the opportunity within the first year of being allowed to.

“When it comes to college affordability and student loan debt, some politicians are proposing solutions while others are pushing scams. Refinancing student loans just like you can a mortgage is one of those common sense solutions and it’s great news for hard working borrowers in Wisconsin Russ Feingold understands that,” concluded Ross.

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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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