UW–Madison’s Nick Hillman, a professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, recently spoke with both Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) and Madison ABC affiliate WKOW about how the launch of the Biden/Harris administration’s Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) program will affect student loan repayment.
Hillman is an expert in how finance, policy, and geography shape educational opportunities, and is the director of the university’s Student Success Through Applied Research (SSTAR) Lab.
The SAVE program creates a new income-based student loan repayment option for borrowers, and aims to reduce borrowers’ monthly payments and help them achieve debt forgiveness in a shorter period.
The program also streamlines the application process and administrative burdens for borrowers. “This is one thing that’s going to, I think, ease some people’s minds and increase participation, which is one of the policy goals for the administration,” Hillman tells WKOW.
Hillman adds, “There’s a group of prospective students who oftentimes can be affected by student loans, even though they’ve never even taken one out.” He explains that students most impacted by the burden of student loans are those who are first-generation college students, low-income students, or people of color.
“Those are all because of other deeply rooted inequalities that we have, education is not immune to them,” he says.
Speaking with WPR, Hillman points out that since the federal government caps the amount of loans going to undergraduate students enrolled in four-year degree programs at $32,000, many in the income-driven repayment plans are likely graduate students.
He adds that student debt cancellation has become “a political football,” and he’s seen signs of potential lawsuits to block changes to income-based repayment. “And now they’re coming out of the woodwork trying to stop any sort of debt cancellation,” he says.