Kolste bill targets student debt

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Gazette staff
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

MADISON—Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville, on Wednesday unveiled a bill designed to reduce what she called “the crippling burden of student debt in Wisconsin.''

Kolste is a lead author of the bill along with Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, and Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay.

“Under current law, student debt can't be refinanced,'' Kolste said. “That makes it different from credit card debt, auto loans or any other kind of consumer debt. Why are students singled out for special, unfair treatment?''

The Higher Ed, Lower Debt Bill would allow student debt to be refinanced and directs the Higher Education Aids Board to develop a program to help refinance student loans.

The bill also:

-- Creates a state tax deduction for payments on student loans and expands the income tax deduction for higher education tuition expenses.

-- Creates at truth-in-student-loan transparency program ensuring that students and parents have easy-to-understand loan information and loan counseling.

-- Provides for better tracking of student loan debt information by standardizing data collected from all Wisconsin institutions of higher learning.

“Nationally, student debt exceeds every other category except mortgage debt,'' Kolste noted. “Students owe a staggering $1.2 trillion. University of Wisconsin System tuition has risen far faster than wages.''

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