Wisconsin’s Rising Ranking on Student Debt Demands Action, Not Excuses

Badger State Now Third Highest in Nation for Percentage of Grads With Debt, Average Burden Skyrockets 74 Percent Over Last Decade

MADISON, Wis. — With the news from a national report that the Badger state ranks third among the fifty states for percentage of 2014 graduates with student loan debt, the time for excuses and gimmicks on crisis in Wisconsin is over, according to One Wisconsin Now Program Director Analiese Eicher. She issued a call for the Republican-controlled state legislature to take up and approve the common sense reforms in the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act (Assembly Bill 272 and Senate Bill 194) to allow borrowers to refinance their student loans, just like you can with a mortgage.

“Student loan borrowers aren’t asking for a bailout but for common sense reforms” said One Wisconsin Now Program Director Analiese Eicher. “As the percentage of state graduates with debt and the size of their burden continues to increase it’s time for the legislature to stop make excuses and start taking action to help.”

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 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.

A measure currently being stalled by the GOP controlled legislature could offer some help to increasingly burdened college grads by helping them refinance student loans, just like you can with a mortgage, and extending a state tax deduction to payments on student loans. The legislation, the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act, has the support of 49 members of the state legislators but is being held in committees by Republicans in control of the legislature instead of being allowed to be considered by the full Senate and Assembly.

Yet instead of help for borrowers who worked hard to get an education and took on the personal responsibility to pay for it Gov. Walker and the GOP legislature have pursued policies contributing to the worsening crisis. Since 2011 they have enacted nearly $700 million in cuts to the University of Wisconsin System and technical colleges, approved double digit tuition increases and underfunded financial aid, leaving tens of thousands of eligible students with no help.

Eicher concluded, “The data shows conclusively that Gov. Walker and the Republicans’ policies have been an utter and complete failure with record numbers of Wisconsin college graduates burdened with record amounts of student loan debt. We deserve action, not excuses, on the common sense solutions in the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act.”

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