Among the class of 2013, nearly 70% of students graduated with student debt, according to a report released last week. Each student owes an average of $28,400.
Student Debt and the Class of 2013 by The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) reveals startling and disheartening figures for debt across country. In fact, in every single state except New Mexico, the average student debt load is more than $20,000 per student, according to the report.
In six states, average student loan debt is more than $30,000, with the three most expensive states sitting respectively at $32,795 (New Hampshire), $32,571 (Delaware) and $32,528 (Pennsylvania). The three lowest states are still shockingly high, with average student debt totaling $21,666 (Nevada), $20,340 (California) and $18,656 (New Mexico).[Tweet “The average debt load of a 2013 graduate is $28,400. Do you know what is scariest about this?”]
The report only factors in public and private nonprofit college graduates. The numbers would be unquestionably and extremely higher if they took into account for-profit college debt.
The terrific school debt facing our students (which now surpasses credit card debt) is gaining national attention. Discussions about student debt occur on senate floors, in university presidents’ offices and throughout financial aid departments. But talk is cheap. Or rather, talk is becoming expensive, as student debt increases while everyone is talking.
CampusLogic is talking the talk and walking the walk. We are battling unnecessary student loan debt every day with our partner schools.
Our platform, AwardLetter, is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) that enables schools to send digital and dynamic award letters that are proven to help students borrow less. Western Governors University (WGU) used AwardLetter in their Responsible Borrowing Initiative to reduce students’ borrowing by 39% in the first year alone, according to a Huffington Post article by WGU President Dr. Robert Mendenhall.
Financial Aid: A Whole New Language
In an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Mark Kantrowitz calls financial aid “an entire language,” noting that students “can’t understand how much the college is going to cost, in the end, without learning all this lingo.”
Translating that language is one of the main ways to reduce unnecessary student borrowing. AwardLetter lowers borrowing rates by helping students gain a better understanding of their financial obligations. When students fully grasp important information like the direct costs associated with their education, the amount they will owe upon graduation and payments related to that amount, many will make more responsible borrowing decisions.
Join the Movement
What are you doing to educate your students to reduce over-borrowing? Take a look at your school’s default rate, and ask yourself if your department could be more effective. Chapel Hill brought on Eric Johnson to improve financial aid communication. Below is an example of some of what he changed, including the “before” and “after wording:
But it’s not just the information on the website that needs clarified. The award letter is students’ and their parents’ first lifeline to financial aid, their first glimpse into what grants and loans may be available to make college a reality. That is where the transparency must begin. AwardLetter enables schools to send clear and thorough information (including links to written, audio or video resources) to students, who may view the letters immediately on any device. Advanced tracking also alerts schools to students who haven’t opened the letter, reducing “lost” enrollments during the financial aid process.
CampusLogic is taking a stand for our students and the massive burden of student debt facing our nation. Along with our partner schools, we are making a difference. Will you join us?