U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Focuses on College Affordability and Student Loan Refinancing at Senate Budget Hearing, Press Conference, Online Chat with Students, and Roundtable Dialogues on UW Campuses

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is drawing attention to the student loan debt crisis in America and the urgent need to pass legislation to help ease the crushing burden of student loan debt that is holding back this generation and creating a drag on economic growth for our country.

Today, Baldwin questioned witnesses at a Senate Budget Committee hearing focused on "The Impact of Student Loan Debt on Borrowers and the Economy". She advocated for new legislation to allow borrowers with federal and private undergraduate loans at high interest rates to refinance at today’s lower rates of 3.86 percent with no refinancing fees. Under the proposal, a student with an average outstanding debt load of $30,000 paying a 6.8 percent interest rate would save about $5,000 by refinancing to today’s lower rate. Borrowers with graduate and PLUS loans would also be able to refinance to lower rates.

This afternoon, Baldwin will participate in a press conference with her female colleagues to highlight the disproportionate impact student loan debt has on women. Women make up 57 percent of college graduates and the average student loan debt for women is $29,650.

Yesterday, Baldwin joined her colleagues Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) for a live online video chat hosted by Generation Progress on student loan debt and new legislation to allow borrowers to refinance their student loans.

In the last month, Baldwin has held roundtable events at UW-Madison and UW-Green Bay with college students and recent graduates to discuss the growing cost of a college education and the impact student loan debt is having on their personal and career choices.

Nearly 40 million Americans have outstanding student loans. New data recently released by the Federal Reserve, showed that student loan debt grew by $31 billion from January to March of this year, now totaling $1.2 trillion across the country, making student loan debt the fastest growing household debt category. According to University of Wisconsin System data, 72 percent of UW System resident students graduated with loan debt in 2011-12, with an average loan debt of $28,002 for these students. The rising debt load makes it more difficult for young professionals to purchase homes, automobiles, and other goods, creating a huge drag on the overall economy.