TTU grads incur less student loan debt than most

Many college graduates face their own fiscal cliff of debt after graduation, but compared nationally, relatively few Tennessee Tech University students borrow money, and those who do owe less at graduation on average and pay it back on time.

Tennessee Tech recently made U.S.News & World Report’s short list of 10 U.S. colleges where graduates leave with the least debt. According to the report, less than half, 47 percent, of TTU’s 2011 graduates borrowed money for college. The average amount of student debt load for that group was $9,952.

By comparison, 68 percent of graduates in the class of 2011 across the nation borrowed to help pay for college, according to data reported by 1,033 ranked colleges in a 2012 U.S.News survey. On average, those students had $26,220 in debt. The debt data used in these calculations include loans taken out by students from colleges, financial institutions, and federal, state, and local governments, and exclude any loans taken by parents.

“It is exciting to see Tennessee Tech students earning degrees that add value to their career earning potential while at the same time incurring much lower debt than most other graduates,” said TTU President Phil Oldham.

Tennessee Tech also boasts the lowest loan default rate, 3.9 percent, for public Tennessee higher education institutions, a rate far below the national average of about 9 percent.

Oldham says the news is encouraging particularly because state funding for higher education in Tennessee has dropped nearly 38 percent since 2007, leaving students to pay a larger percentage of tuition and fees.

“The financial burden has shifted to the students and their families in this state,” said Oldham. “As tuition and fees have risen, the state percentage has decreased so that students are carrying the majority of the load.

“At the same time, universities have actually controlled costs and cut about as much as you can cut to keep costs manageable,” said Oldham.

In the past couple of years, TTU’s resource savings plan garnered an annual savings of greater than $1.5 million.

“TTU is committed to doing our part to stop shifting the financial burden to students while maintaining the quality of our degrees so that our graduates can succeed in the national job market,” said Oldham.

This ranking follows a 2010 study by U.S.News & World Report that found TTU students who carried a debt after graduation owed the lowest average of any regional university in the South.

For the complete list of the 10 Colleges Where Students Graduate With the Least Debt, visit http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/the-short-list-college <http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/the-short-list-college> .

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