Minn. Survey Shows Impact of Recession on Student Loan Debt
The Minnesota State University Student Association has released the results of a survey it issued in September 2010 to help assess the impact of student loan debt on its members.
The Minnesota State University Student Association has released the results of a survey it issued in September 2010 to help assess the impact of student loan debt on its members. Because the survey’s number of responses is small — just 46 responses to date — the results don’t hold tremendous scientific value, but they do paint a picture of how the recession has affected college loan debt and default rates in the state.
According to the compiled results, the survey respondents — all of whom graduated from one of Minnesota’s public four-year universities — currently carry an average of $32,456 in student loans. That’s 40 percent more student loan debt than the national average of $23,186.
The respondents reported an average monthly student loan payment of $297 with an average loan repayment plan of 15 years. Although federal education loans have a standard repayment horizon of 10 years, borrowers who hold more than $30,000 in federal college loan debt may request a debt-help repayment plan that extends their repayment term to up to 25 years.
These results are consistent with the findings of the U.S. Department of Education released last fall, which show that Minnesotans leave school with more federal college loans than the average student nationwide but tend to default less often than borrowers in other states.
According to the Department of Education, 55 percent of Minnesota college students take on federal school loans to help pay for college expenses, compared to 37 percent of undergraduates nationwide and 47 percent of undergraduates from Midwestern states.
While carrying higher student loan debt loads, however, Minnesota borrowers have a default rate on their federal college loans of just 3.7 percent, compared to the national default rate of 7 percent.
These default rates are measured from students whose federal school loans entered repayment in 2007–2008 and who defaulted before October 1, 2009.
The 2008 default rate in Minnesota of 3.7 percent marked a rise from 3.3 percent in 2007 and 2.9 percent in 2006. Despite this upward trend in student loan defaults, Minnesota ranks 51st in default rates out of the 54 states and territories assessed by the Department of Education.
Officials from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education attribute the lower default rates in their state to better employment prospects for graduates. They also point out that students who leave school without graduating or who work in low-wage jobs are most likely to default on their college loans. Students who earn occupational certificates instead of college degrees are also at a higher risk of defaulting.
Graduates of Minnesota’s four-year private and public nonprofit universities were the least likely to default on their school loans. Just 1.4 percent of students from private universities and 1.9 percent of students from public universities who graduated with student loan debt defaulted in their first two years of repayment.
Students who attended Minnesota’s public community and technical colleges posted the highest default rates among the state’s recent college graduates. Students who attended those schools defaulted at a rate of 6.7 percent and accounted for more than half of the state’s default rate.
On an institutional level, 45 percent of Minnesota’s colleges and universities saw an increase in student loan defaults among borrowers in 2008, while 33 percent had no change to their default rates and 22 percent experienced a decrease in their default rates. Out of Minnesota’s 98 higher education institutions, 11 schools reported no defaults on federal school loans that entered repayment in 2007–08.
These default rates reported by the Department of Education use the current two-year default rate measure, which looks at federal education loans that go into default within the first two years that a borrower is in repayment on her or his federal college loan debts.
Beginning in 2012, national and state default rates will be measured over three years. Using the new formula, the default rate among Minnesota students is 6.2 percent, compared to a national three-year default rate of 11.8 percent and a regional Midwestern default rate of 10.8 percent.
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