Momentum Builds for Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act as State Assembly Schedules Committee Hearing

Assembly Bill 498 Offers Common Sense Solutions to Help Wisconsin Student Loan Borrowers and State Economy

MADISON, Wis. — Momentum continues to grow for legislation to help Wisconsin borrowers better manage their student debt with the State Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities announcing a public hearing on the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act, Assembly Bill 498. The Assembly announcement comes on the heels of a Senate committee hearing held this week at which experts, students and borrowers offered compelling testimony on the need for state action to help stem the $1.2 trillion student loan debt crisis.

The Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee will convene at 11AM on Monday, February 10 in 417 North of the State Capitol to take public testimony on Assembly Bill 498, the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act. 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.

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.

Assembly Bill 498, 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.

Newspaper editorial boards across the state including the Green Bay Press Gazette, The Appleton Post Crescent, Racine Journal Times and the Capitol Times have endorsed the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act, along with organizations including AFSCME, the National Association of Social Workers and the Wisconsin Dental Association.

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