Twenty four billion. Sixty-two. Seventy-nine. These numbers are the amount of student debt in Wisconsin, according to new figures from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the percentage increase in student loan debt complaints from 2015-16 to 2016-17 filed with the CFPB and the percentage of registered voters in Wisconsin who approve of a plan to allow student loan borrower to refinance their loans, just like you can with a mortgage.

In their recently released “Snapshot on Student Debt” the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, based on consumer information compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, pegged Wisconsin borrowers’ share of the $1.4 trillion plus student loan debt held nationally in 2016 at $24.4 billion. Earlier figures from the federal government reported there were nearly one million borrowers in the state with federal student loans alone.

The study also found Wisconsin consumer complaints filed with the CFPB about their loans and collection practices rose 62 percent from October 2015 to September 2016 compared with complaints between October 2016 and September 2017.

Meanwhile, another poll of Wisconsin voters finds broad support for allowing student loan borrowers to refinance their loans. According to a survey of 1,116 registered Wisconsin voters conducted by Public Policy Polling on October 16 and 17 an overwhelming 79 percent supported “a plan to allow student loan borrowers to refinance their loans, just like you can with a mortgage.” A mere nine percent were opposed. Support was strong across partisan lines with 85 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of independents favoring the proposal

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Dorothy Robson is editor of the Westby Times. Contact her at 608-637-5625.

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