State Senator Jennifer Shilling joined representatives Jill Billings and Steve Doyle in co-authoring new student loan legislation in Wisconsin.
The Higher Ed, Lower Debt Bill hopes to provide an average of $500 per year in tax relief for student loan borrowers and to allow them to refinance their loans at lower interest rates, not unlike what many do with mortgages.
Legislation like this has been introduced before but was never scheduled for a vote.
"This is something that I hope people will have some evolving issues and evolving points of view on it to see that this has the greatest amount of impact on Wisconsin residents," Senator Shilling said.
Shilling said recent graduates aren't the only ones faced with a debt crisis. A growing number of older adults are affected too.
"As we look at the people who are impacted by this, it certainly is those young people who have graduated," said Shilling. "But we're seeing the fastest growing demographic is people who are 60 years and [older] because they are having to co-sign these loans with their sons or daughters or even grandchildren."
A study by The Institute for College Access and Success found that in 2015, 70% of Wisconsin graduates left with student loan debt, with an average of just under $30,000 per graduate. That percentage ranked 3rd highest in the nation.