August 22, 2011
Study: Utah schools award more degrees with less debt
(Brian Maffly, Salt Lake Tribune) — A new measure for student debt loads shows Utah’s public colleges and universities are among the nation’s most productive in terms of debt generated per degree awarded.
Utah’s “debt-to-degree” ratio is $7,175, less than half the national average, according to a recent data analysis by Education Sector, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
Only Florida and California have lower ratios; both are states that keep tuition low and maintain generous need-based aid programs. Utah, on the other hand, is one of the stingier states when it comes to providing financial assistance.
A recent report from the Utah System of Higher Education, meanwhile, found
that Utah’s spending per degree awarded is the third lowest in the nation, at about $42,000 (Florida is lowest). So Utah appears to be getting the best of both worlds: low debt on students and low burden on taxpayers.
“A good share of it is explained by low tuition. We have the fourth-lowest in the country, so it’s cheaper, and Utah has an aversion to debt,” said Commissioner of Higher Education William Sederburg. “It’s an indication of an efficient system.”
He said Utah promotes concurrent enrollment and transferability of credit among institutions, which help students graduate sooner by avoiding redundant courses.
Education Sector’s new debt measure provides a more complete picture of schools’ performance than simply graduation rates, default rates or average debt, according to report authors Kevin Carey and Erin Dillon, policy analysts for the think tank. They made their calculations by adding up the volume of federal loans at every school between 2006 and ’07 and 2008 and ’09, then dividing those figures by the number of credentials schools awarded during that period.
Schools with poor graduation rates should have high ratios, even if borrowing is low. More…Posted by: psilberman