In a call today, students and elected officials called on Sen. Ron Johnson to start supporting students and not the big banks that have poured money into his campaign. Johnson has opposed legislation that would allow students to refinance student loans, despite clear evidence that it could save students thousands of dollars. While home, auto and business loans can all be refinanced, student loans cannot.

Analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau showed that reducing the interest rate just 3% on a $28,000 loan can save a borrower $50 per month and over $590 a year on their payments resulting in a savings of over $10,690 over the life of the loan.

70% of students graduating in 2014 in Wisconsin had student loans - the third-highest percentage in the nation. The average student graduated with over $28,000 in debt in 2014. Senator Johnson has called federal student loans, “free money.”

Here are excerpts from the call:

“I always knew that following my dreams would be expensive, but I couldn’t imagine that my debt might make it impossible. My family has helped as much as possible, but they don’t have the resources to pay tens of thousands of dollars a year for college. So even with some scholarships, I have had to take out $25,000 in loans. That debt burden will impact my life for decades. Trust me when I say my student loans are not “free money”... Why is it that people can refinance loans for cars, home, or businesses but not college? Given the opportunity to refinance I could save thousands of dollars. That’s real money for people like me,” said Serena Jaros,studentatUW Milwaukee.

“A college education is non-negotiable for a career in the 21st century. But Ron Johnson and Republicans in Wisconsin have done nothing to help students struggling to afford it. There are practical solutions. We know that refinancing can help save students money. Analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows that reducing the interest rate just 3% on a $28,000 loan can save a borrower $50 per month and over $590 a year on their payments resulting in a savings of over $10,690 over the life of the loan. But facts aren't enough to convince Johnson and other Republicans who are blind to the issue of student debt. People refinance cars,home and business so why not student loans? We need to get serious about this issue and propose real solutions that benefit students and not the banks who donate to Johnson and Walker,” said David Hansen, State Senator from Wisconsin’s 30th District.