UW chancellors hesitant on student debt forgiveness

The leaders of the University of Wisconsin System’s two largest schools aren’t embracing President Joe Biden’s plans to forgive student debt.

UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone and UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said during a virtual luncheon hosted by WisPolitics.com and the Milwaukee Press Club that they have questions about the concept.

Mone said he would welcome student debt forgiveness because the price of higher education places an immense burden on students and their families. But he said would have to see whether the funding to cover it would come from a viable source.

Blank was more forceful, saying 57% of her students graduated last year with no debt and borrowing money for higher education is not a bad thing. People borrow similar amounts of money to buy cars even though their value decreases dramatically once they’re driven off the lot, she said.

Still, she said perhaps some level of debt could be forgiven for graduates in low-paying fields such as teachers. But "we shouldn’t do it in a blanket way," she said.

President Biden has said he supports up to $10,000 in student loan forgiveness per borrower. Democrats have been pushing him to forgive $50,000 in debt for federal loan recipients.

President Biden announced in January that federal student loan payments would remain suspended and interest rates would be set at 0% through at least September, extending an action from former President Donald Trump.

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