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Taskforce on student debt releases new report with recommendations for governor

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers' task force on tackling student debt released their final report, assessing the problem in the state.

The report shows more than $24 billion in outstanding student loans for the state. Over 700,000 Wisconsinites are affected by some sort of student debt. What's making matters worse for graduates and their families is that 53 percent of Wisconsinites live paycheck to paycheck.

Governor Tony Evers acknowledged this growing problem and created a the task force back in January to begin coming up with solutions. Task force chair Kathy Blumenfeld thinks this report will a big impact on the way the Governor looks at his biennial budget.

"We've come up with a set of eight recommendations to send to the governor for his consideration and these recommendations really provide relief, education, and protection to student debt holders now and in the future," said Blumenfeld.

The eight recommendations the task force submits to Governor Tony Evers are as follows:

• Create a Borrower Bill of Rights and Student Loan Ombudsman
• Enhance proprietary school regulations and reinstate the Educational Approval Board
• Financial literacy education
• Increase need-based, targeted aid and create a statewide promise program
• Loan counseling
• Loan forgiveness
• Refinancing
• State student debt relief tax credit

These solutions are meant to help address the growing cycle that's affecting more than just students right now.

"Our parents that have their own debt are also trying to then take on debt to help their children go to school, and in our listening sessions that we held around the state, we actually heard from a lot of grandparents and seniors as one of the highest growth areas of student debt," said Blumenfeld.

The task force group was made up of 32 members from professions dealing with higher education and the loan industry. They originally crafted 37 recommendations but carved it down to just eight.

Mike Beiermeister

WXOW Weekend Anchor and Reporter

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