Today marks the fifth anniversary of the total student loan debt in the United States surpassing $1 trillion. The following is the statement of Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning with regards to the anniversary:

"Five years ago, the total student loan debt in our country reach $1 trillion, that figure now stands at more than $1.3 trillion. But the crisis isn't just about numbers, it's about real people, our friends, family, and neighbors struggling with debt each month.

"Democrats understand that the first-generation college student from Beloit should be able to attend one of our universities or colleges without the fear that they'll graduate with crushing amounts of debt. We want the recent graduate in Rice Lake to be able to start a business without fear of defaulting on their loans. And we want the couple in Oconomowoc to be able to make the next step and purchase a home without hesitation about their financial limits.

"Our students and graduates are trying their best to better themselves and their communities while taking on the responsibility of paying for their own education but are too often trapped in a system that treats them unfairly. One of the biggest things we can do to grow the middle class and help everyday Wisconsinites is to give borrowers more options to pay off their debts, and reduce their monthly burden, so they can contribute to our state's economy.

"Sadly, Republicans are standing in the way of such progress. Republicans have repeatedly blocked Democratic legislation, Higher Ed, Lower Debt, that would allow Wisconsinites to refinance their student loans, just as they can with a car or home mortgage, and experience relief on their monthly debt payments. It is clear that Republicans prefer allowing banks to profit off the hardship of others than alleviate the financial burden of students in need.

"Democrats are committed to ending the student loan debt crisis in Wisconsin. The future of our state’s ability to flourish depends on young people’s freedom from crushing student loan debt, and if Republicans really care about growing the economy or the future of our state, they’ll join us in this fight."