The cost of college tuition has been a hot topic for years, with graduates facing a lack of jobs and an ever growing debt. The presidential race has picked up on the concerns of young voters with candidates, such as Sen Bernie Sanders, offering free tuition. One time, former hopeful for president, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, has heeded the constant concerns from students in our state and answered their call.
On Monday, Governor Walker announced his newest legislative plan to reduce the cost of college, the college affordability package. Drawn up by Republican lawmakers, the package aims to eliminate the student loan interest cap, deducted from state income tax, putting an extra $165 back in the hands of taxpayers. In addition, the bills would provide students with emergency assistance, internship opportunities with Wisconsin employers, and additional information regarding their loans to assist in making smart financial decisions.
“The best way to hold down student loan cost is to keep down education costs…Our college affordability legislation will help students and families make informed decisions about choosing the higher education path that is right for their future dreams and for their budgets,” said Walker.
Critics of the package say it does not do enough for students. Democrats want more, such as loan forgiveness or the option to refinance loans to a lower interest rate. Democrat Senator Jennifer Shilling described Walker’s plan as “nibbling around the edges” and that “it’s really window dressing” not solving the problem. Currently, democrats have a bill that would allow students to refinance their debt but it has stalled in the Senate.
The college affordability package was introduced to the State Legislature this past Monday and co-sponsors are asked to sign up by the end of the day today. With only a few months left of session, it is unclear as to whether or not the bills will pass.