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News speaks with UW-Madison's Hillman for report examining student loan debt

July 28, 2016

UW-Madison’s Nicholas Hillman is quoted in a recent report headlined, “Good News On Student Loans ... For Some.”

Hillman is an associate professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis and is an affiliate of the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE)

The article begins by noting that a “new White House report on student loan debt reveals that how people repay student loans has changed dramatically in a short time. The report comes as the Democratic Party moves this week to nominate Hillary Clinton, who has called for a path to debt-free public college, interest rate cuts, help for delinquent borrowers and a three-month moratorium on all student loan payments.”

Nicholas Hillman
Hillman goes on to add: “The overall outstanding student loan balance is $1.3 trillion and growing — as are average individual balances, as is tuition. The average return to a higher education has also never been higher, even when loans are taken into account. What's new is how those loans are getting paid back. According to the new report, the share of borrowers enrolled in affordable payment plans has quadrupled in just four years, to 20 percent in 2016. Still, several experts we talked with have suggestions for tweaking the programto better serve the goal of expanding access to college to those who need it most, even as costs rise.”

When it comes to loan repayments, Hillman tells that he’d like to see a completely different process in place for targeting who gets access to help with their loans.

Income-based repayment, Hillman points out to, is based on an idea first proposed by Chicago economist Milton Friedman back in the 1950s. Hillman tells that changing conditions and changing data should drive new ideas: "It's a lack of policy creativity."

To learn much more about this nuanced topic, check out the entire report for free on this web page .
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