MADISON, Wis. — One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross released the following statements on today’s one-year anniversary of student loan debt topping $1 trillion. Student loan debt, as research by One Wisconsin Now’s partner organization One Wisconsin Institute has shown, is a major drag on the Wisconsin economy related to middle class purchasing of new cars and homes.
“Student loan debt is a clear and present danger to the Wisconsin economy and the future of our middle class. One year later we have even more debt for students than ever before in our history. Student loan debt is the only debt that increased during the Great Recession and student loan debt puts borrowers at more risk today as result of virtually every consumer protection being stripped away from these loans. The recent media attention paid to the University of Wisconsin System’s reserve fund should serve not as a chance for our elected officials to score one-day sound bites at legislative hearings, but as a true opportunity and wake up for real reform in how we support the public good that comes from public education at our institutions of higher learning and technical colleges.”
Original research by the One Wisconsin Institute showed student loan debt has a dramatic, negative impact on students and families and Wisconsin’s economy. 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, the research found that over 85% of renters reporting solid middle class incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 were making student loan payments.