State Goes from 4th to 3rd Highest in Nation for Student Loan Debt

Sen. Hansen calls for committee vote on Higher Ed Lower Debt

(Madison)—Responding today to new research that shows Wisconsin is now 3rd highest in the nation for the number of college graduates with student debt, State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) called for the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges to vote on the Higher Ed/Lower Debt bill that would allow the refinancing of student loans at lower interest rates.


“The longer the legislature sits on the sidelines the greater the student loan debt crisis grows,” said Senator Hansen.  “Over 815,000 Wisconsin residents are struggling under a growing burden of high cost student loan debt.  They cannot wait for us to act any longer.”


The Institute for College Access and Success released the results of a comprehensive 50 state study they conducted on student loan debt for 2014.  The study found that seventy percent of Wisconsin’s graduates have student loan debt, the third highest percentage in the nation.  It also found Wisconsin ranks seventeenth nationally for our average student debt load of over $28,800.


“If research showed Wisconsin was moving up in the tax rankings there would be a rush to do something about it.  And that’s understandable.  But the deafening silence on the part of some politicians in Madison to address the growing student loan crisis is no less damaging.”


Research has shown that the auto industry in Wisconsin is losing $200 million a year in lost new car sales due to the high cost of student loans.  But that is only part of the story as those with student loan debt are also much more likely to rent than to buy a home.


And it’s not just recent graduates who are struggling, said Hansen, author of the Higher Ed/Lower Debt bill that would allow people with student loans to refinance them at lower interest rates which can already be done with home or auto loans


“More than one third of student loan debt is held by people over the age of 40.  These loans follow students and their families for life thanks to the increasing reliance on student loans to pay for college and the high interest rates attached to them.  It hurts their ability to pursue their dreams and it creates a drag on our economy.  We cannot afford to let this continue.”


“We have 14 senators ready to pass this bill.  We only need three to get that done.  But the first step is getting a vote in committee.”