Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act to Receive Public Hearing in State Senate Universities and Technical Colleges Committee

Chance for Student Loan Borrowers to Share Their Stories and Support Bill to Restore Fairness to System

MADISON, Wis. — An innovative state solution to help tackle the $1.2 trillion student loan debt crisis will take a first step forward toward becoming a reality in Wisconsin with a public hearing before the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross encouraged individuals with student loan debt to attend the hearing or contact their state legislators to share their stories and how the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act could help them.

The Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges will convene at 10AM on Wednesday February 5 in room 400 Southeast of the State Capitol to take public testimony on Senate Bill 376, the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act.

Ross commented, “There are hundreds of thousands of borrowers with student debt in Wisconsin. They’ve done the right thing, working hard to get their education or job training and taking on the personal responsibility. They’re not asking for a bailout, but they deserve a system that treats them fairly and gives them the fair shot at the middle class they’ve earned through their hard work.

Senate Bill 376, the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act, would:

  • Create a state authority to help borrowers refinance their student loans, just like you can a home mortgage;
  • Allow borrowers to deduct their student loan payments on their state income taxes, just like you can with home mortgage interest;
  • Require 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
  • Track information about student loan debt in the state to help policy makers better understand the depth and breadth of the debt crisis in Wisconsin.

Original research conducted by One Wisconsin Institute found student loan debt in Wisconsin is a significant drag on the Wisconsin, significantly reducing rates of home ownership among borrowers and costing the state over $200 million in new vehicle sales every year.

An analysis of provisions of the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau found borrowers could reap significant savings with the new tax deduction for student debt payments and the ability to refinance their loans to take advantage of lower interest rates.

Ross concluded, “The Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act is a common sense solution that will help hundreds of thousands of hard-working Wisconsinites and their families, and boost our economy. We appreciate the committee taking the time to hear from the public on this critical issue and hope they’ll support the effort to restore fairness to the system for borrowers.”

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