the Student Loan Debt Project

Sounding the Alarm on the 21st Century’s Third Rail of Economic Politics


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Our multi-year, multi-partner program is a massive public awareness campaign dedicated to educating the public on the $1.3 trillion student loan debt crisis. Join our email list to stay updated on this project and other issues facing our state.

university of wisconsin bascom hall

Declining financial support for higher education has shifted costs onto consumers, increased student loan debt and decreased the affordability of higher ed.

One Wisconsin Institute
i am a student loan voter over image of graduation cap and one hundred dollar bills

We need to get serious about real, common sense reforms to student loan debt before the crisis becomes a full-blown economic catastrophe.

One Wisconsin Institute

Our research shows how the vicious cycle of student loan debt is a danger to the finances of students & their families and to our national economy.

One Wisconsin Institute
scot ross in the progressive
In The News

My name is Scot Ross and I'm a student loan debtor. I know the regret of economic opportunity lost to a loan payment.

The Progressive
Student Loan Debt Graduation Cap and Money

Our research confirms the detrimental economic impact of student loan debt, finding it negatively affects new car purchasing and home ownership.

One Wisconsin Institute
  • NYU Students Don’t Know If the Degree Is Worth the Debt

    A study by One Wisconsin Institute reports that it takes an average of 21.1 years to pay back the student loan debt accumulated from earning a bachelor’s degree.

    Washington Square Times, 11/11/2019
  • College Students Vastly Underestimate How Long It’ll Take to Pay Off Their Debt

    One Wisconsin Institute even estimates the average length of repayment at a little over 21 years.

    Washington Examiner, 05/31/2019
  • College Grads Expect to Pay Off Student Debt in 6 Years—this Is How Long It Will Actually Take

    One Wisconsin Institute found that the average length of repayment for student debt borrowers is 21.1 years.

    CNBC, 05/23/2019
  • How Much Student Loan Debt Do Americans Have?

    According to a study from One Wisconsin Institute, it takes an average of 19.7 years to pay off a 4-year degree.

    WCCO-TV, 05/21/2019
  • What Is the Average Time It Takes to Repay Student Loans?

    According to a survey of 61,000 respondents conducted by One Wisconsin Institute, the average time to pay off student loan debt is 21.1 years.

    Credible, 01/16/2019
  • Point Counterpoint: No One Looks Out for Students Like Sen. Tammy Baldwin

    According to One Wisconsin Institute’s “Student Loan Voter Scorecard,” Vukmir has consistently voted against ... college students in Wisconsin.

    Badger Herald, 10/16/2018
  • College Loan Default Rates Rise 20 Years After Enrollment

    Similarly, another study from One Wisconsin Institute found that loan repayment takes 19.7 years for bachelor’s degrees and 23 years for graduate degrees.

    Study Breaks, 01/30/2018
  • How to Know If College Is Worth It

    In a survey by the One Wisconsin Institute respondents reported an average repayment period of approximately 21 years for college debt.

    Teen Vogue, 01/05/2018
  • Student Loan Forgiveness Program Is About to Face Its First Major Test

    “Not only is there an uncertainty about whether or not this program is going to happen, but there’s still an uncertainty about how this works,” said Analiese Eicher.

    MarketWatch, 09/29/2017
  • New Poll Shows Popular Support for Student Loan Payment Reform

    Poll conducted by One Wisconsin [Institute] showed broad bipartisan support for student loan payment reform despite failure to pass such legislation in Wisconsin

    Badger Herald, 09/26/2017
  • Bryan Kelly Talks With Analiese About Reforms to Help Student Loan Borrowers Refinance Their Debt

    Bryan Kelly talks with Analiese about reforms to help student loan borrowers refinance their debt.

    WRRD-AM, 09/12/2017
  • New Poll of Wisconsin Voters Picks Up On Student Loan Trends

    A poll of Wisconsin voters commissioned by One Wisconsin Institute found nearly two-thirds of poll participants would favor a student loan refinancing program.

    The Student Loan Report, 09/12/2017
  • Poll: 64 Percent of WI Voters Want State Plan for Student Loan Refinancing

    The poll, commissioned by the liberal policy group One Wisconsin Now and conducted by Public Policy Polling, shows just 31 percent of voters are against such a plan.

    WKOW-TV, 09/11/2017
  • New Poll Finds Strong Support for Reforms to Help Wisconsin Student Loan Borrowers

    Results of a new poll commissioned by One Wisconsin Institute finds broad support for reforms to help student loan borrowers.

    One Wisconsin Institute, 09/11/2017
  • Student Debt Reform Advocates Unveil New Online Resource for Borrowers

    Leading student debt advocates have joined together to mobilize support for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program with online resources at

    One Wisconsin Institute, 08/16/2017
  • Piling On: DeVos, Trump Make Student Loan Crisis Worse

    One Wisconsin Institute, found that people with student loan debt are far more likely to rent versus own a home.

    The Progressive, 08/07/2017
  • This Is the Age Most Americans Pay Off Their Student Loans

    A study from the One Wisconsin Institute finds that it takes graduates of Wisconsin universities 19.7 years to pay off a bachelor's degree.

    CNBC, 07/03/2017
  • Non-Educational Spending of Student Loan Funds Increasing

    A survey by the One Wisconsin Institute found the average amount of time needed to repay a loan for a bachelor’s degree was about 21 years.

    GoodCall, 06/06/2017
  • 6 Ways to Get Your Student Loans Forgiven

    A study by One Wisconsin Institute revealed that on average, a graduate with a bachelor's degree will take 21 years to repay their student loans.

    Associated Press, 05/07/2017
  • New York Is a Beacon of Free Tuition…

    The standard repayment plan is not nearly enough according to research done by One Wisconsin Institute.

    Daily Titan, 04/12/2017
  • Presidential Candidates’ Plans for Tackling Student Debt

    The average amount of debt per student has increased more than 50 percent in the last decade, according to TICAS, and One Wisconsin Institute.

    Loyola Phoenix, 11/03/2016
  • Real Life Stories From Caroline and Melissa and Maurice Highlight Toll of Student Loan Crisis, Importance of Borrowers Making Voices Heard in November 8 Election

    One Wisconsin Institute has released two new videos of student loan borrowers telling their stories as part of their “I Am A Student Loan Voter” campaign.

    One Wisconsin Institute, 11/02/2016
  • Experts Assess College Affordability Proposals

    "This debt causes a significant economic drag on the state's economy," said Mike [Browne], an analyst at One Wisconsin Institute.

    Wausau Daily Herald, 10/25/2016
  • At The Top of Their Class

    A new Student Loan Voter Scorecard recently released by the non-partisan One Wisconsin Institute evaluated the positions taken by state legislators.

    SSDC, 10/24/2016
  • One Wisconsin Institute Student Loan Debt Video Series Highlights Borrowers’ Stories

    One Wisconsin Institute is releasing a series of video interviews featuring Wisconsin borrowers telling their stories about what student loan debt means to them and their families.

    One Wisconsin Institute, 10/14/2016
  • Refinancing Federal Student Loans: A Crisis You Should Know

    You cannot refinance federal student loans with the government. We need to change the system. That means changing the minds of politicians like Scott Walker.

    Analiese Eicher, 09/29/2016
  • One Wisconsin Institute Unveils First-of-Its-Kind Student Loan Voter Scorecard

    At, Wisconsin Voters Can Find Out Who Is, And Who Isn’t, Supporting Common Sense Reforms to Reduce Burden on Student Loan Borrowers.

    One Wisconsin Institute, 09/21/2016
  • Debt Perception

    Based on current projections by One Wisconsin Institute, a nonprofit organization that conducts research on student loan debt, it will take 21 years or so to repay this amount.

    Workforce, 03/28/2016
  • Elizabeth Warren, Russ Feingold Talk Student Debt at UW-Madison

    One Wisconsin Institute has shown that those with student loan debt are more likely to rent than buy a home and more likely to buy a used car than a new one.

    Capital Times, 09/27/2015
  • Scot Ross: Back to School Shouldn’t Mean Decades of Debt

    For too many Wisconsinites, the $1.3 trillion student loan debt crisis continues unabated, burdening their family finances and holding back our economy.

    Capital Times, 09/01/2015
  • Higher Ed Cost Shift Sabotaging State’s Growth

    If we’re going to move our state forward, we need to choose a different path by recommitting to public education as a public good and reducing student debt.

    Scot Ross, 05/15/2015
  • Federal Agency Visits Milwaukee to Hear Student Debt Concerns

    The message is clear: many student debt services deserve an "F" grade, and the federal government wants to improve the mark.

    WTMJ-TV, 05/14/2015