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Sunday, May 19, 2024

State News

 Experts warn that unsustainable student borrowing is reaching crisis levels across the country. Default rates at UW-Madison have actually fallen over the past year.

UW students may see gap in aid after the demise of a popular student loan program

The Perkins Loan Program, which provided $25.4 million in low-interest loans to UW System students, has expired, with seemingly little hope of congressional renewal in sight. The program offered unique financial services to students, offering a comparably low interest rate of five percent and a nine-month grace period after graduation before payments begin, all without requiring any annual funding, as all loans given are provided by those already paid back. “Eliminating this program, to put it clearly, will affect who can and cannot go to college,” said Nick Webber, government relations director for the UW System Student Representatives.

In a special session called by Gov. Scott Walker, the state Assembly passed a series of reforms to the state’s welfare system, adding work requirements, drug testing, and asset value limitations to various social programs.

‘The deserving poor:’ Walker’s welfare reform plans highlight perceptions of poverty

“Public assistance should be more like a trampoline and less like a hammock,” Gov. Scott Walker announced to roaring applause at his State of the State address, introducing a package of new reforms to the welfare system. These reforms would add a series of stricter requirements for Wisconsinites to qualify for welfare and public support, with the goal of easing people off of government dependency and into the mainstream economy. But these policies have more than administrative importance, as they also suggest a unique understanding of what poverty is like, and what sorts of values are assigned to different people grappling with it. To Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who testified in support of the reform proposals, any good welfare system is one that “promotes accountability, encourages personal responsibility, prevents fraud and abuse,” and “opens the doors of opportunity for people who can work.” Debates within social policy often wrestle with questions of who is considered worthy of help. “Deservingness has historically been tied to ability and willingness to work,” said Marcy Carlson, a professor in the UW-Madison Department of Sociology and researcher at the Institute for Research on Poverty.

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