MADISON, Wis. — Greendale Village President and Assembly candidate John Hermes has added his name to the growing list of supporters of the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act — groundbreaking legislation in Wisconsin to help combat the $1.2 trillion student loan debt crisis. Over 750,000 Wisconsinites have federal student loan debt alone, and nearly 40 million Americans have debt. According to One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross, the exponential growth of student loan debt in recent years and its threat to our economy means policymakers need to get serious about solutions.
Ross commented, “The $1.2 trillion student loan debt crisis is a clear and present danger to our state economy, burdening families and slowing economic growth in every community in Wisconsin. Elected officials who are serious about the prosperity of their communities need to get serious about taking on this issue.”
Earlier original research by One Wisconsin Institute found that student loan debt is directly responsible for over $200 million in lost new vehicle sales on an annual basis and student loan borrowers with solid middle class incomes are two-thirds more likely to rent versus own their home.
Unless reforms are enacted, Ross noted that families and students will continue to face a system that increasingly squeezes them between skyrocketing tuition, cutbacks in public funding for universities and technical colleges and profiteering by big banks and even the federal government.
The Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act (Senate Bill 376 and Assembly Bill 498) would help with common sense state-based solutions like:
- Creating a state authority to help borrowers refinance their student loans, just like you can a home mortgage;
- Allowing borrowers to deduct their student loan payments on their state income taxes, just like you can with home mortgage interest;
- Requiring borrowers be given detailed information before entering into loan agreements, offer counseling to students and parents on the implications of student loans and require the state to collect and disseminate information about private lenders and maintain a ranking system; and
- Tracking information about student loan debt in the state to help policy makers better understand the depth and breadth of the debt crisis in Wisconsin.
Ross concluded, “Borrowers have done the right thing, working hard and taking on the personal responsibility to get job training or a higher education. Elected officials can do right by them, and by our economy, by supporting measures like the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act to make sure the system treats them fairly and they get their shot at the middle class.”