New Data Reveals Depths of Student Loan Debt Crisis in Wisconsin

Over 800,000 Wisconsinites Have Over $18 Billion in Outstanding Federal Student Loan Debt

MADISON, Wis. — New data released today by the White House, based on 2014 Department of Education statistics, reveal Wisconsin’s share of the $1.2 trillion student loan debt crisis. According to the data there are 812,000 state residents with over $18.2 billion in outstanding federal student loan debt.

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote this week on legislation introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and sponsored by Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, S. 2292, to allow for the refinancing of both federal and private student loans. Fiscal estimates on the bill project 20 million borrowers would seek to refinance their loans within 18 months of the bill becoming law.

Democratic members of Wisconsin’s House delegation are also championing measures to help borrowers. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-2) has authored student loan refinancing legislation and Rep. Ron Kind (WI-3) has announced out a five-point plan to help reduce student loan debt.

In the state legislature Rep. Cory Mason and Sen. Dave Hansen introduced the Higher Ed, Lower Ed Act to allow refinancing of student loans and extend a state tax deduction to student loan payments. All legislative Democrats sponsored the bill while all Republicans voted against allowing the full legislature to take up the bill.

Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke has included refinancing and a tax break for student loan payments in her Invest for Success economic plan. Meanwhile Gov. Walker has increased tuition by over $200 million over his term, reduced financial assistance for Wisconsin students and ignored requests to take up student loan debt bills in a special legislative session.

The following are the statements of One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross on the latest Wisconsin student loan debt statistics:

“The latest data gives added urgency to efforts to stem student loan debt before the current $1.2 trillion crisis becomes a full blown economic catastrophe.

“Borrowers have done the right thing, they’ve worked hard to get an education and took on the personal responsibility of paying for it. They’re not asking for a bailout. But they deserve a system that treats them fairly. Their education ought to be a path to the middle class, not a sentence to decades of debt.

“Common sense solutions like allowing the refinancing of student loans just like you can with a mortgage or car loan would be a huge step forward.

“The choice is simple. Our elected officials can act to help over 800,000 of their fellow Wisconsinites with student debt. Or they can stand idly by and allow the dreams, hard work and personal responsibility of nearly one million Wisconsinites be crushed under the weight of billions of dollars of student loan debt.”

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