MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker appeared this morning at an event to nominate a Wisconsin public high school to represent the state in a national competition recognizing efforts to prepare students for college and careers. But, according to One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross, the Walker administration has failed to help students avoid becoming trapped in the vicious cycle that has created over one trillion dollars in student loan debt.
“For too many students, college has become the path to decades of student loan debt instead of a secure economic future and the middle class. And here in Wisconsin, the double whammy policies of higher tuition and frozen financial aid from Gov. Walker are only making things worse.”
According to original, state specific research by One Wisconsin Institute, the trillion-dollar student loan debt crisis has severe implications not just for students and their families, but also for the economy as a whole. In Wisconsin it was found that individuals with bachelor’s degrees with student loan debt were making average monthly payments of $350 on loans with an average term of nearly 19 years. Over $200 million in annual new car sales are lost as a direct result of student loan debt and households with student loan debt are significantly more likely to rent rather than own their home. In fact, over 85% of renters reporting solid middle class incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 were making student loan payments.
Under Walker, student financial aid was frozen at 2010 levels and tuition at University of Wisconsin schools was increased by $107 million in his 2011 budget, increasing the need for more students to borrow more money. In his 2013-15 budget proposal, Walker again fails to increase funding for state higher education financial aid.
Ross concluded, “Wisconsin’s schools do a great job preparing students to go on to college and careers. But Gov. Walker and the legislature aren’t holding up their end of the bargain by failing to act and allowing the trillion-dollar student loan debt crisis to deepen on their watch.”