You’ve seen the horror stories – college graduates with six figure loan debts, a $30,000 a year job and virtually no way to pay off what they owe. Some parents, students and legislators believe that scenario is the rule rather the exception for college graduates across the country. It’s not.
But it is a fair question for them to ask any higher education institution – what percent of students take out loans to pay for classes at your school and what is their average debt when they graduate?
Here’s the answer from the University of Louisville’s Institutional Research office:
57% of 2015 baccalaureate degree recipients had debt
$27,281 is the average debt of the grads who had debt
Both of those numbers for UofL graduates are well below the national average. According to an analysis of government data by edvisors, about 70 percent of 2015 college graduates left school with debt, the average debt being roughly $35,000.
And while the average debt of a UofL graduate might seem like a big chunk of change to a 22-year-old fresh out of college, $27,281 is about the price of a new Ford Escape SUV.
UofL tries to help its students avoid big debts on the front end of their college career. In the fall of 2014, 96% of first time students received a scholarship or grant and 30% of those freshmen got enough aid to cover the entire cost of tuition.
It helps that, in general, public institutions like UofL remain less expensive and have far fewer undergrads with loans and debt than private schools. And there remains little debate among experts that a college degree is an excellent investment. According to U.S. Labor Department statistics, Americans with bachelors degrees earn, on average, $1193/wk., compared to $668/wk. earned by those with high school diplomas.
The bottom line to parents and students looking at colleges is this: For most students a four year degree is worth the cost but don’t be afraid to ask for debt data from prospective schools. Now you’re armed with the University of Louisville’s.