By Nyesha Stone
The Student Loan Refinancing Task Force is making stops around the state to listen to Wisconsinite’s stories on dealing with student debt. The idea originated from a recommendation made by Gov. Tony Evers.
The task force includes the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions Secretary-Designee Kathy Blumenfeld, Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board Executive Secretary- Designee Connie Hutchison, among others.
The task force came to Milwaukee to meet with community members at Washington Park Library, 2121 N. Sherman Blvd., to hear what the community had to say about student debt.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as of 2016, Wisconsin’s student loan balance is $24.4 billion, with over 700 complaints.
Godlewski said before the task force begins thinking of solutions, they must first fully understand and know the problems facing Wisconsinites when it comes to student debt. After graduating college, Godlewski has $75,000 in debt with nine percent interest.
She soon discovered that her story wasn’t unique because she wasn’t the only one dealing with debt.
Owner of Bounce Milwaukee, Becky Cooper-Clancy, graduated from Marquette University in 2008 and after 10 years of paying student loans, she owes $750 more than her original amount. Even with being an owner of a “moderately-successful business” she said it’s nearly impossible to get ahead with student loans.
“If we weren’t completely crushed with student debt, we’d be spending that money in the community,” said Cooper-Clancy.
During the roundtable, every panelist had five minutes to share their stories and then the floor was left to the audience for their input. Milwaukee was the groups second stop after La Crosse. They plan on hitting the rest of the state to get a full scope on Wisconsin’s student loan debt.
“This is a Wisconsin problem,” said Godlewski, “This is a real team effort.”