Schools where students graduate with highest/lowest debt

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Discus: College Search and Selection: September 2003 Archive: Schools where students graduate with highest/lowest debt
By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 11:24 am: Edit

This week's U.S. News & World Report has a special section on paying for college. The section lists the schools where students graduate with the most and least debt from student loans.

Most Debt - Pepperdine, 67% have debt upon graduation with an average amount of $33,649. Pepperdine is followed closely by Worcester Polytechnic Inst., where 81% graduate with an average debt of $25,609. Others on the list: Notre Dame, University of San Diego, University of Miami, RPI, University of North Dakota, Vanderbilt, New School University (NY), George Washington U, University of Oregon, and the University of Hartford.

For Liberal Arts Schools, University of Puget Sound tops the list with 59% graduating with an average debt of $24,272. Wesleyan is second with 40% graduating with an average debt of $23,377. Other schools on the list: Albright College (PA), Whittier (CA), Austin College (TX), ST. Lawrence University, Middlebury, Allegany, Ohio Wesleyan, Pitzer, Seton Hill, Kenyon, University of Dallas.

Some of these schools - like Pepperdine - offer high percentages of need based aid but obviously much of that aid can be assumed to be based on loans.

Which schools do students graduate from with the smallest debt? Try Texas A&M University-Commerce, where 40% of students graduate with debt but the average debt is only $5182. Others low debt universities: University of Texas - El Paso, University of South Alabama, CIT, University of Mass - Boston, Harvard, Princeton, Uof NC - Chapel Hill, Rice, University of Houston, San Diego State University, UC Riverside.

For LACs - lowest indebted students include:
Principia College (average debt $8026), Amherst, Millsaps, Hanover, Lyon, Wofford, University of the South, Williams, Swarthmore, Scripps

By Magenta (Magenta) on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 09:12 pm: Edit

Are these stats just for student debt or for student AND parent debt as don't a lot of parents take out loans for their children's education? Even if they are including parent loans, though, this won't tell the whole story as many parents have the money to pay for high tuitions, but it is still setting the family back X dollars. I'd be curious to see a chart listing how much (both in actual dollars and as a percentage of total college costs) the schools average for areas like money earned for tuition through work programs, merit versus athletic and other scholarship funding (and I realize the Ivy colleges other than maybe Princeton have *no* merit scholarships), tuition paid by parents, tuition paid by scholarships outside the college (like Coke or Intel, etc.), tuition paid by student outside of the campus arranged funding, etc. That would be a more meaningful thing to see, seems to me. The amount of student debt alone doesn't necessarily mean much as it could just be low due to parents kicking in more so their kids aren't as weighed down by debt at graduation; that reflects more on the parents with students at certain colleges than the colleges themselves.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 02:25 pm: Edit

The list I gave - from US News & World Report's issue this week - only listed STUDENT debt. You're absoultely right - parents off take out home equity loans, etc. to fill in the gap. I think the student loan number is useful because it suggests how much of "need based financial aid" each school offers is going to be based on student loans. For example, Pepperdine offers a high percentage of need based aid but also has high $$ amount of average student loans, suggesting that if you're applying for aid there, that's what they'll offer instead of grants.

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