MADISON, Wis. — In a historic first, Wisconsin Democrats today included support for common sense measures to help Wisconsin borrowers refinance their student loan debt as part of their party platform. Nationally, there is an estimated $1.2 trillion in student debt held by over 40 million borrowers. According to statistics from the U.S. Federal Reserve, there are 753,000 Wisconsinites with federal student loan debt alone.
One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross commented, “Student loan debt has a broad reach across Wisconsin and a devastating impact on our economy. Restoring common sense and fairness for borrowers, by allowing the refinancing of student loans just like you can with any other loan, will help their family budgets and our state economy.”
The platform plank adopted by Democrats endorses the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act introduced in the state legislature in the 2013 session. The bills (Senate Bill 376 and Assembly Bill 498) would help state residents refinance their student loans, and give borrowers a tax break for student loan payments.
The plank also supports Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s inclusion of provisions of the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act in her Invest for Success jobs plan and the efforts of the state’s Democratic Congressional delegation, who have championed federal legislation to allow loan refinancing.
Ross commented, “Student loan borrowers have done the right thing – they worked hard to get their education or job training and took on the personal responsibility of paying for it. They deserve a fair shot at the middle class, not a multi-decade student loan debt sentence.”
Original research by One Wisconsin Institute found that borrowers reported making significant monthly payments over long terms. For example, on average, borrowers with a Bachelors degree were making monthly payments of nearly $350 for almost 19 years. These debts have a significant and negative effect on critical drivers of the economy like new car and home sales as borrowers are significantly more likely to buy a used versus new car and rent versus own their home.
“For too long the plight of student loan borrowers has been ignored, and the result is that we are now confronted by a $1.2 trillion debt crisis that is holding our economy back. It’s good policy and smart politics to stand up for common sense solutions to give borrowers the fair shot at the middle class they’ve earned by their hard work and personal responsibility in getting an education,” concluded Ross.