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The Wisconsin Coalition on Student Debt answers student loan forgiveness questions

Wisconsin student loan borrowers are be able to apply for a federal relief program and can also contact the Wisconsin Coalition for Student Debt with any loan forgiveness questions.
Christopher Furlong
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Wisconsin student loan borrowers are able to apply for a federal relief program and can also contact the Wisconsin Coalition for Student Debt with any loan forgiveness questions.

There are over 700,000 Wisconsinites that have student debt. Fortunately for Wisconsin borrowers, the Biden administration announced a widespread federal student loan relief program where nearly 230,000 Wisconsin residents could see their entire student debt erased.

However, the process of getting loan relief has been confusing and many questions have surfaced. Seeking to answer these questions and clarify this process, the Wisconsin Coalition on Student Debt hopes to make it easier for borrowers.

The Wisconsin Coalition on Student Debt, as described by its president, Lara Sutherlin, "[Is] a nonprofit organization and we represent concerned organizations and stakeholders who seek to increase clarity around key issues of student debt, college affordability, and loan repayment... We try to raise awareness about policies and promote outreach that improves borrowing and repayment experience for Wisconsin residents."

The coalition also partners with associations with similar and aligning missions that can provide further resources and support. One partner member is the Ascendium Education Group, where coalition member, Benjamin Lee, works as associate counsel.

A common topic the coalition receives and seeks to communicate to Wisconsin borrowers is forgiveness eligibility.

Lee says, "I would encourage everyone to head out to studentaid.gov and look up the debt relief announcement. There's a lot of good info there. But, generally, folks with an [annual] income below $250,000, if they are married, filing jointly or under $125,000 if they are filing separately or individually, should qualify for $10,000 of student debt relief. If they've received a Pell Grant, it's $20,000."

The coalition also wants Wisconsin borrowers to beware of fraudulent scams posing as this federal program and offers warning signs to identify them. "Anybody that's asking you to pay for an application, to pay for information, to pay for to get on a list sooner, that is most likely a scam... This is free," Sutherlin says.

There are laws about debt settlement agencies that Wisconsin borrowers should be aware of. Sutherlin explains, "In the state of Wisconsin, if a debt settlement company is making you pay upfront, that's actually illegal."

Student loan forgiveness in Wisconsin is considered taxable income. For Wisconsin borrowers who are concerned about having to pay taxes on their federal student loan forgiveness, Lee advises borrowers to exercise their right to opt-out of receiving federal aid.

The Wisconsin Coalition on Student Debt has also established a toll-free, confidential hotline for Wisconsin borrowers. Their hotline can be reached at (833) 589-0750.

The federal student loan debt relief program is accepting applications from borrowers until December 31, 2023.


Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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