On The Issues

Making College Affordable

Post-college plans start and end with the question of how to pay off huge student loans.


As Russ has traveled across Wisconsin, he’s heard more about the challenge of paying back student loans than he’s heard concerns about any other single household expense.

Parents tell Russ that their kids had no choice but to take out loans – because these days, paying tuition bills in cash is a financial fantasy available only to the ultra wealthy.

And graduating students say their post-college plans aren’t always focused on starting a new life for themselves; more and more, post-college plans start and end with the question of how to pay off huge student loans.

This has real-world consequences for Wisconsin’s young people. All across our state, newly-graduated young adults are delaying plans to buy a home, open a business, or start a family. Seven in ten Wisconsinites graduating in 2013 had student debt, carrying an average balance of over $28,000. Nationally, student debt is now an economic crisis, totaling nearly $1.2 trillion of debt.

Refinancing Existing Loans

For former students still carrying student loans, Congress could act now, by making student loans subject to refinancing, just like we do with mortgages. There’s already legislation sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Warren that would do just that.

Graduating without Crushing Debt

Most of our energy should be focused on our next generation of students. To build a strong economy in the 21 st century that works for everyone, a college education must be available to those students who study hard to get there, regardless of their economic status.

Russ believes we must build a system that allows Wisconsin’s future students to graduate without debt from our world-class public institutions. Such a system must require hard work and accountability from everyone – from students, schools, and even from states, who must be on the hook to support their institutes of higher education.