A bill that would allow more than 750,000 Wisconsin residents to refinance their student loans received strong support during a hearing at the Capitol this week, but faces an uncertain future in this legislative session.
The bill allows borrowers to refinance loans at lower interest rates and deduct up to $6,500 annually on state income tax returns, according to a Thursday report in the Wisconsin State Journal.
The bill is sponsored by two Democrats, Sen. Dave Hansen of Green Bay and Rep. Cory Mason of Racine. They contend student loan debt hurts the state economy by hampering car and home buying, and Hansen believes the first-of-its-kind bill would encourage students to stay in Wisconsin upon graduation.
Those testifying at the hearing included Jennifer Hussli, a family practice doctor in Janesville. Hussli testified she and her husband spend $20,000 annually on student loan interest.
The bill sets up the Wisconsin Student Loan Refinancing Authority, a group that would be similar to the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.
John Reinemann, an executive secretary with the Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board, said he likes some aspects of the bill, but is concerned it would promote higher borrowing for college.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he has doubts about the bill, as well. He added that his caucus is considering multiple bills on student loan debt, but that Hansen and Mason's bill would "probably not" be successful.
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