In a committee Thursday, the Senate passed all but one of the bill’s in Gov. Scott Walker’s plan that aims to make college more affordable.
The bill that was not taken up would provide funding to the University of Wisconsin System to assist students in securing internships. The bill was pulled from the agenda at the beginning of the committee meeting with no explanation.
Rep. John Macco, R-Ledgeview, said in a statement the package will work toward saving students money and lowering debt.
“Keeping the cost of college low, prioritizing payments on interest payments and educating college students about their future debt is the right solution in how to keep student debt low,” Macco said. “This bill will make Wisconsin a leader in affordable post-secondary education as we work hard to create the next generation of career and community ready leaders.”
Walker announced the college affordability package Jan. 11 as a strategy to combat student debt.
Walker proposes plan to make college more affordable, but no financial aid increase for UW SystemEarlier this week Gov. Scott Walker announced a multi-faceted plan to make higher education more affordable, a step one expert said was positive, Read…
Four bills passed on party line votes, with Democrats arguing they will not do enough to help students afford the high cost of college. An additional bill in Walker’s college affordability package passed unanimously.
Several amendments were proposed by Democrats to make assistance to students more substantial, but none were approved.
Rep. Dana Wachs, D-Eau Claire, said in a statement the plan will not have a significant impact on Wisconsin students.
“Wisconsin citizens know that the Republican college affordability package is a thinly-veiled attempt in an election year to curry favor,” Wachs said. “I would have hoped that at a time when the disastrous effects of the Walker economic policies are clearer than ever, the Republicans would have invested in higher education.”
One of the bills that passed would provide emergency grants to students who are faced with unexpected financial crises. Students would be able to apply for an emergency grant and receive a grant within five days, according to the bill text.
Colleges and universities would be required to provide information to students about loans and student debt under another bill that passed through the committee. The goal is for students to attain “financial literacy.”
Another bill, which passed on a 3-2 vote, would provide tax deductions for interest acquired on qualifying student loans.
The final bill that passed would require the Department of Workforce Development to coordinate with colleges and employers to provide students with internships. The goal of the bill is to increase the amount of students who are placed in internships.
The only bill from the college affordability package that passed unanimously was a proposal that would increase grants for technical colleges.
The college affordability package will be taken up for a vote in the Senate March 15.