MADISON, Wis. — Despite rising levels of student loan debt hurting Wisconsin borrowers and the state economy, Republicans on the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance today rejected a common sense state-based plan to allow borrowers to refinance their loans, just like you can a mortgage.
Nationally, an estimated 43 million Americans have in excess of $1.3 trillion in student loan debt and it is among the top forms of consumer debt. According to figures from the White House, there is $19 billion in current student loan debt in Wisconsin and more than 800,000 Wisconsinites currently have student loan debt. Research by One Wisconsin Institute found student loan debt has a dramatic economic impact, with borrowers significantly more likely to buy a used versus new vehicle and rent versus own their home.
One Wisconsin Now’s partner organization, One Wisconsin Institute, along with national think tank Demos today released a report, Wisconsin’s Great Cost Shift, showing declining financial support for higher education by the State of Wisconsin has shifted costs onto consumers, increased student loan debt and decreased the affordability of higher education. Failing to address education funding and student debt issues endangers the quality of institutions of higher learning and threatens the state’s economic competitiveness and the future of its young people.
The following are the statements of One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross regarding the vote today by Republicans against a proposal to help Wisconsin student loan borrowers to refinance their loans:
“Under Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican legislature we’ve seen an unprecedented assault on education with the biggest cuts to funding in state history, double digit tuition increases at the University of Wisconsin and underfunding of financial aid leaving tens of thousands of eligible students without any help.
“Today, Republicans voted against a common sense plan offered by Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee to allow student loan borrowers to refinance their loans, just like you can with a mortgage.
“Our research shows that state policies are driving up tuition, shifting costs on to students and their families and hurting the state economy.
“There are nearly one million student loan borrowers in Wisconsin today. By working hard to get their education and taking on the personal responsibility of paying for it they’ve earned a fair shot at the middle class. And letting them refinance their loans like you can with a mortgage is a common sense way to help make that a reality and boost our state economy.”