MILWAUKEE (SPECTRUM NEWS)- Alan Collinge had high hopes of protesting at the Democratic National Convention.

“I was hoping for more people,” he says. “It is what it is, and the message is stronger than any of that.”

His message, one he has dedicated his life to, calls for the federal government to end student loan repayments for all Americans.

“It’s a failed lending system,” he says. “Even though I’m here marching alone, there are nearly one million Wisconsinites, 80-percent of whom are losing sleep over their loans."

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shows Wisconsin has more than $24 billion in outstanding student loan debt. A report Tuesday from the state shows more than half of Wisconsinites live paycheck to paycheck, making repayment more difficult.

Collinge is from Rhinelander and borrowed money from the federal government for his education. He fell on hard times and unemployment shortly after September 11, 2001. 

“I borrowed $37,000,” he says. “Very quickly, with penalties and fees, my loans skyrocketed to over $100,000.”

Since then, Collinge has started the group Student Loan Justice. The group has over 15,000 members on Facebook. Its sole mission is to end student loan debt. The grassroots organization has a chapter in every state.

“We just started a petition calling on the President, this one or the next, to cancel these student-owned loans by executive order,” he says. “We have over 560,000 signatures so far and I think we’ll be up over one million by the end of the month.”

To view the group’s website, click here.

To view the petition, click here,