MADISON, Wis. — With Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in control of the state legislature Wisconsin has risen to third highest in the nation for percentage of college graduates with student debt with seventy percent of the class of 2014 having left school with an average debt of nearly $28,000. In testimony today before the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross ripped majority Republicans for pushing a series of bills intended to get themselves out of a political jam instead of helping nearly one million Wisconsin borrowers with student loan debt with real reforms.
“Republicans are trying to pass off a scheme that denies every single person in Wisconsin with student debt any help lowering their monthly loan payment as a solution to the student loan debt crisis,” said Ross. “Anyone voting for this plan ought to be denounced for the fraud they’re trying to perpetrate on nearly one million of their fellow Wisconsinites with student loan debt.”
Although they now claim to be concerned about student loan debt in Wisconsin, since 2013 Republicans in the state legislature and Gov. Walker have blocked the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act. The legislation, supported by all 50 Democrats in the Senate and Assembly, would help Wisconsin borrowers to refinance their student loans, just like you can with a mortgage. The plan would extend an existing state tax deduction to include student loan payments and provide additional information and loan counseling to borrowers.
Instead, under Gov. Walker and the Republican controlled legislature, funding for the University of Wisconsin System and Technical Colleges has been reduced by nearly $1 billion when compared to the year before Walker entered office. In addition they have hiked tuition by 11% and so woefully underfunded financial aid that 41,000 students eligible for aid received none.
Ross concluded “The student loan debt crisis is a $19 billion nightmare for nearly one million Wisconsinites and their families – preventing them from purchasing new cars or home of their own, stymieing consumer spending and stifling new job creation. Make no mistake none of these bills will reduce by one cent the monthly student loan payments of any student loan borrowers.”