UCCS student debt averages $17,000; low when compared nationally

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The Financial Aid office is available for students who have questions about grants, loans or scholarships.
Jonathan Toman | The Scribe
Nov. 23-Dec. 6, 2015

Rachel Librach
rlibrach@uccs.edu

UCCS’ average student debt, upon graduation, is about the same price as a used car.

The average overall loan debt for a student attending UCCS in 2015 was $16,854, that’s one-third the national average.

The student default rate on these loans is less than four times the national rate.

According to Jennifer Fisher, associate director of Scholarship Programs, a three-year cohort loan default rate is only 2.8 percent, which is approximately nine percent lower than the state and nation average.

“This indicates that students who borrow at UCCS are finding good paying jobs and are able to pay back what they borrowed,” she said in an email.

Fisher said that compared to Colorado School of Mines, CU Denver/Anschutz, Metro State, CSU and UNC, UCCS had the lowest average student debt loans in 2014.

Jevita Rogers, director of Financial Aid, explained that UCCS tuition increase has also been one of the lowest in the state.

“Everyone on the university leadership team makes sure the financial aid is never lower than the increase in tuition. Our grants are increased by the same percentage as the increase in tuition,” she said. “The money for our grants comes out of the university budget process and its investments.”

Fisher said university scholarships help students minimize their debt.

“Both scholarships and grants are available to help students cover the cost of educational expenses. We gave out more than $14 million in grants and $9 million in scholarships last year,” she said.

Rogers explained how students can control the amount of money they take out of their loan, via their student portal, which reduces the total amount of money they have to repay.

“If you only need $2,000 out of $5,000 only borrow what you need to cover your bills. Students should keep in mind that the more conservative they are with their spending, the better they can manage their debt,” she said.

Fisher and Rogers offered students some tips on how to better manage debt after graduation.

“Faculty and staff are here to guide students through the financial aid process, offer them alternative solutions and hit those filing dates,” said Rogers.

Mountain Lion Money Matters is a financial literacy program that hosts monthly workshops on how to stay financially healthy. The next workshop is Dec. 3 at 6 p.m.

“(The workshop) will focus on preparing students for post-graduation by learning the ins and outs of federal student loan repayment options,” said Fisher.

Rogers recognized that to a student who just graduated college, a debt of $17,000 is intimidating and often times overwhelming.

She encouraged students to look beyond the dollar amount and see that the price of their education is actually an investment.

“It’s all a matter of how you look at it. If you paid $50,000 for tuition and graduated with a debt of $17,000 that’s really not such a bad deal,” Rogers said.

“Unlike buying a car or a house, the knowledge you gain will not depreciate,” she said. “You graduate college to procure a better job. As students succeed in their careers, the easier it will get to pay back their student loans,” she said.

The UCCS Scholarship Application for 2016-17 will open on Dec. 1, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid opens on Jan. 1 and the merit based scholarship deadlines are typically Feb. 1, according to Fisher.

The FAFSA priority date/need-based scholarship deadline is on March 1, she added.

For more information, students can go to uccs.edu/finaid/index.html.

The Lowdown

Mountain Lion Money Matters ‘Game of Loans’
Dec. 3, 6 p.m.
University Center 122

UCCS Scholarship Application
Opens Dec. 1 via student portal