MADISON, Wis. — Hillary Clinton today unveiled a new, comprehensive plan to address the existing $1.3 trillion plus student loan debt crisis and make college more affordable. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross praised the Clinton plan and noted the vivid contrast it provides to the abject failure of Gov. Scott Walker to address the student loan debt crisis in Wisconsin.
“Student loan debt is a clear and present danger to current borrowers, future students and our entire economy,” commented Ross. “Any serious plan to address the $1.3 trillion student loan crisis must help both current borrowers and pave the way for more affordable higher education for students in the future.”
According to media reports, highlights of the Clinton plan include:
- Allowing borrowers to refinance their student loans, just like you can a mortgage;
- Cracking down on abuses by the for-profit college industry;
- Rewarding states that take steps to keep incoming students from having to take out loans to afford their tuition; and
- Slowing the rate of growth in college tuition.
By contrast, Walker’s record of failure in Wisconsin includes:
- Consistently refusing to support state legislation introduced in 2013 and again in 2015 to allow borrowers to refinance student loans;
- Cutting almost $700 million from the University of Wisconsin and technical college systems, including $250 million in his most recent budget;
- Signing into law double digit tuition increases while failing to fully fund financial aid, leaving tens of thousands of eligible students with no help; and
- Attempting to eliminate the state agency in charge of overseeing private, for-profit colleges.
Ross commented, “Student loan borrowers have done the right thing, working hard to get an education and taking on the personal responsibility to pay for it. And future students are headed to college are doing so with the idea that their hard work and education will earn them a fair shot at the middle class, not a decades long debt sentence.”
Original research by One Wisconsin Institute found the student loan debt crisis has a significant, negative effect on borrowers and the Wisconsin economy. Borrowers reporting average student loan debt payments of $388 per month over a term of 18 to 22 years and are significantly more likely to rent versus own their home and drive a used versus new vehicle than Wisconsinites without the burden of student loan debt.
A report released earlier this year in association with the national think tank Demos shows how Walker’s regressive higher education policies have shifted costs onto consumers, increased student loan debt and decreased the affordability of higher education. The confluence of the these factors endangers the quality of Wisconsin’s institutions of higher learning, threatening the state’s economic competitiveness and the future of its young people.
“The promise of higher education as a path to the middle class is in danger because when it comes to student loan debt and college affordability, the system is broken. The reform plan announced today by Hillary Clinton provides a powerful contrast with Scott Walker and the regressive policies he’s pursued to earn his place as the worst governor in the nation on student debt.”