MADISON, Wis. — The percentage of Wisconsinites with student loan debt continues to rise compared to the rest of the nation according to the results of a new study released by The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS). The results of their comprehensive 50 state study on student loan debt for 2014 finds 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.
“The latest data shows the student loan debt crisis continues to grow in Wisconsin with seventy percent of 2014 graduates leaving school with nearly $29,000 in debt,” commented One Wisconsin Now Student Loan Debt Program Director Analiese Eicher. “It’s time for Gov. Walker and Republican state leaders to stop offering sound bites and gimmicks and deliver the real reform that Wisconsin borrowers need.”
The TICAS study also found 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.
Groundbreaking state legislation, the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act (SB 194 & AB 272), creating a state based authority to help student loan borrowers refinance their debt, just like you can with a mortgage and extending a state tax break to student loan payments, has been introduced again in the 2015 legislative session. However Gov. Walker and the Republicans in control of the legislature have allowed the bill with 49 sponsors to languish in committee. At the federal level efforts to allow the refinancing of student loans have failed with state Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing.
Eicher concluded, “Student loan borrowers in Wisconsin continue to pay the price for Gov. Walker and the Republican legislature’s indifference to the student loan debt crisis. While they wreak cronyism and corruption on the state, the hard-working borrowers who took on the personal responsibility to pay for their education go another year without the common sense reform that is desperately needed.”