THE BLOG

Will the Student Loan Crisis End in Wisconsin?

05/26/2015 02:16 pm ET | Updated May 26, 2016

Two politicians in Wisconsin’s statehouse are proposing a solution to address the student loan crisis in their state. Rep. Corey Mason and Sen. Dave Hansen have announced they will introduce a bill that would enable student loan refinancing in Wisconsin.

The High Ed, Lower Debt bill would relieve student debt in several ways. First, the bill would allow student borrowers to deduct their loan payments from their income tax. “Under this legislation, the typical Wisconsin student loan borrower will see $179 in tax savings, and those residents with higher student loan payments will see as much as $531 in annual tax savings,” states Rep Mason’s press release on the legislation.

Additionally, the bill would provide more detailed consumer information on lenders and types of loans to students and parents, as a form of consumer protection. The legislation takes consumer protection one step further by stipulating the need for increased collection and tracking of student loan data in the state to allow for more effective policy decisions down the line.

Lastly, the focal point of Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill would be the creation of the Wisconsin Student Loan Refinancing Authority. This public-private entity would be responsible for buying up both federal and private student loans from Wisconsin borrowers and refinancing them at lower interest rates. Wisconsin would be the first state to create such a system for student loan refinancing.

This bill certainly has the potential to revolutionize the student loan system in the US, but this is not the first time it has been proposed. Mason and Hansen introduced the same bill in February 2014. The 2014 legislation was given a public hearing, but Republicans prevented it from being taken to a vote.

Days before Mason and Hansen released their plans to reintroduced the bill this time around, their Republican colleagues on the Joint Finance Committee voted against a similar student loan refinancing proposal.

Despite the obstacles, according to Mason, “The time to protect Wall Street at the expense of hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites is over. The Higher Ed, Lower Debt Bill will put money back into the pockets of Wisconsin’s student loan borrowers, and back into our economy. Although Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee unwisely rejected Higher Ed, Lower Debt on a party-line vote, we hope this legislation will get the full consideration it deserves.”

Mason and Hansen are currently seeking co-sponsors for the bill and will formally introduce it soon. There is also an online petition on Sen. Hansen’s website available for Wisconsin voters to show their support for the bill.

Much like the response from Wisconsin’s statehouse, the private sector has responded to the student loan crisis. Now, many lenders are willing to help borrowers throughout the nation refinance and save money on their student loans.

To see if you can save money by exploring private sector refinancing options, visit Credible.