This month families across Wisconsin will prepare to send their kids off to college, including Tawni and myself. Soon we will be dropping our oldest son Johnny at UW-River Falls to start his freshman year.
In Wisconsin we are fortunate to have a world-class state university system, many outstanding private universities, and first-rate technical colleges in every corner of the state. In the Third Congressional District alone we have 14 colleges and universities educating more than 71,000 undergraduate students.
But in Wisconsin and around the nation, the increasing cost of college is putting higher education out of reach of many families and students.
Student loan debt is skyrocketing and has reached a crisis point. Nationally it has surpassed $1 trillion, more than the entire U.S. owes in credit card debt. On average, Wisconsin students hold more than $28,000 in student loans when they graduate.
Earlier this year I introduced a plan to make sure hard working students and families have access to an affordable education. I’ve stood up against short-sighted budget proposals and voted to prevent Stafford student loan rates from doubling. I’ve worked to expand access to higher education by expanding Pell grants, promoting work-study programs and offering a hand to disadvantaged students through the TRIO program.
Unfortunately, earlier this year Governor Walker put forth a plan to cut $300 million from the University of Wisconsin System over two years. His plan will put our students at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy, and make it harder for our UW schools to recruit and retain faculty.
Our university system is a tremendous source of pride for Wisconsin, and a key economic engine for the entire state. Investing in higher education is one of the smartest decisions we can make. Every dollar we invest today will pay dividends down the road and help ensure that Wisconsin can compete in the global marketplace.
Kind (D-La Crosse) has represented the Third Congressional District since 1997.