A state lawmaker says there’s a growing in urgency in the Legislature acting on a bill that would help thousands of Wisconsin residents refinance their student loan debt.
A report by the the Institute for College Access and Success ranked Wisconsin third in the nation for the percentage of residents with student loan debt – with 70 percent of Wisconsinites owing an average of nearly $29,000. State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) says that debt has an impact on the economy, with an estimated $200 million in auto sales lost each year and many people forced to continue renting, instead of buying a home.
Hansen is the sponsor of a bill that would allow Wisconsin residents to refinance student loan debt through a state authority, which allow them to potentially reduce their interest rates and their monthly payment. Hansen argues “people should be able to refinance their student loans to get lower interest rates, the same way you do with a home or auto loan.”
The bill has received a hearing, but a committee vote has not yet been scheduled. Hansen believes it would have the support needed, if Republicans allow a vote to take place.
Efforts to pass similar legislation have fallen short in previous sessions. Some Republicans have questioned how much the state can actually help students who are already paying low interest rates on some loans, and whether the state could assume the risk of setting up an authority.