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SUPERIOR-On the UWS campus on Saturday morning more than one hundred student supporters lead a difficult discussion concerning their debt.
The Institute for One Wisconsin reports that this year student loan debt will top $1 trillion.
Now the group is politically mobilizing to teach people how those figures negatively affect's Wisconsin's economy.
The group brought Ian Reese, a student at UW–Marathon County, to the podium to talk about his debt.
"And it started to really weigh on me. And I started thinking to myself 'can I afford to do this? Can I afford to work and be a part–time student and accrue debt year after year after year?'" Reese said.
"The data shows that, post–privatization, student loan debt went from $200 billion in 2000 to $1 trillion in 2011," Executive Director of the Institute for One Wisconsin Scot Ross said.
"We've never seen that kind of explosion in student loan debt. We've never seen a 500% increase in the amount of student loan debt in America," Ross said.
Students offered a few reasons for the trend. First, the removal of refinancing and bankruptcy rights. Second, a reduction in investments by the state and country for high education loans and grants. And third, no voice for students in government where the voice of youth widely silenced.
"People aren't necessarily getting denied access to college. They're just become indentured servants to student loan debt," Ross said.
Reese, who is also president of his college's student government, adds that ultimately this affects Wisconsin where less people can afford new cars and homes - sending the state economy downward.
"Can i, myself, fix this problem? Absolutely not. But standing behind me we have a coalition of students that are motivated," Reese said.
"I'm fine with being below minimum wage and I'm fine with walking to school in the cold. And I'm fine with eating ramen as many damn meals as it takes," Reese said.
"But I am not fine with having to mortgage my future because the government has said, by the way they lay out their FAFSA, 'you're not important enough to give grants to. Take the loans and gamble," Reese said.
Their meeting starts a multi–year campaign to teach people why the system should be changed.