MADISON, Wis. — Efforts to help Wisconsin borrowers deal with the crushing burden of student loan debt were rebuffed today by the Republican majority in the State Assembly. A motion to take up the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act, Assembly Bill 272, failed on a party line vote.
The following are the statements of One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross:
“Assembly Republicans’ party loyalty once again trumps common sense as they voted against providing any relief for over one million Wisconsinites with student loan debt.
“When presented with a common sense plan to help Wisconsin borrowers who worked hard to get their education and took on the personal responsibility of paying for it, the Republicans’ answer was no.
“Borrowers aren’t asking for a bailout, but they’ve earned the right to be treated fairly by the system. It’s too bad Republicans with their votes disagree with that sentiment.”
The bill would help state borrowers refinance their student loans just like you can with a mortgage, extend a state tax deduction to student loan payments and increase information provided to borrowers.
Just last week the results of a study by The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) on student loan debt for 2014 found seventy percent of Wisconsin’s graduates have student loan debt, the third highest percentage in the nation, and the average debt load of over $28,800 they carry ranks Wisconsin seventeenth nationally. TICAS also reports that over the last decade Wisconsin graduates were saddled with a seventy four percent increase in the amount of debt upon graduation and that ten percent more graduates were leaving school with student debt.
Original research from One Wisconsin Institute found that student loan debt has a significant and negative impact on the Wisconsin economy. Borrowers are much more likely to rent versus own their home and over $200 million in new car sales are lost annually due directly to student loan debt.
With national think tank Demos, One Wisconsin Institute’s Wisconsin’s Great Cost Shift report found that the state’s de-investment in higher education and rising tuition has shifted costs onto students. The consequences of reduced consumer spending on major purchase like homes and autos and billions in lost wealth for student loan borrowers threaten the state’s economic competitiveness and the future of its young people.”