50-50 Highlights: Colleges with Highest Percentage of Freshman with Non-Federal Loans

golden graduate figure holding on to debtIn case you’ve been in a coma and haven’t heard, there is a student loan crisis. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the total student loan debt of $870 billion exceeds that of consumer credit card debt. Apparently, students are borrowing too much to pay for college. Or maybe they’re not borrowing too much, they just don’t have jobs that will allow them to make their loan payments.

Whatever the exact situation, the fact is that individual students have the ability to decide how much money to borrow. They also have the ability to decide what kind of money to borrow. This means that they need to understand the difference between private and federal loans.

Actually, in most cases they don’t really to know much more than that they shouldn’t be taking out private loans. Given that virtually everyone qualifies for unsubsidized Stafford loans which have a maximum accumulated limit of?  $31,000, no one should be borrowing more than that. If you need to borrow more than that, you probably shouldn’t be going to the school.

Private loans are going to have higher interest rates and may require repayment to start while still attending school. They generally don’t offer forbearance or deferment options. Nor can students take advantage of consolidation programs, extended repayment plans, or government repayment programs that cap monthly payments based on your income.

While it’s certainly possible to find yourself with financial problems taking out federal loans, taking out private loans makes it much more likely. The simple solution is to apply to schools where you won’t need to take out a private loan. And yes, at some schools students are more likely to have private loans than at others.

The Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) reports the percentage of freshman who take out non-federal loans and the average amount. Non-federal loans can include institutional loans as well as private loans. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to tell what percentage of loans are private versus institution. Furthermore, it’s possible that institutional loans offer better terms than federal loans but we just don’t know.

If you’re considering a school with a high percentage of students with non-federal loans, be sure to take a close look at the school’s financial aid policies. Don’t put yourself in a situation where the only way you can attend college is by taking out a private loan.

The following table lists 50-50 schools where 15% or more of freshman have non-federal loans along with the average loan amount. When considering the amounts, remember even a relatively low amount such as $3,000 will add $12,000 in debt over four years. As usual, the five-year graduation rate is used for public institutions and the four-year rate for private schools. Subscribers to the How to Get the Best Deal on a College Education email list get a spreadsheet copy of the 50-50 list.

50-50 Colleges with Highest Percentage of
Freshman with Non-Federal Loans

NameStateType4/5 yr
% Freshman
Student Loans
Avg Amount of Non-Federal
Student Loans
for Freshman
University of St ThomasMNPrivate61642934
University of RedlandsCAPrivate56633907
Wabash CollegeINPrivate68545675
Wittenberg UniversityOHPrivate66522627
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health SciencesMAPrivate554713349
Westmont CollegeCAPrivate75453338
The University of AlabamaALPublic61415072
Cabrini CollegePAPrivate494015215
Dordt CollegeIAPrivate56393904
Grove City CollegePAPrivate77388751
Maine Maritime AcademyMEPublic663112006
Winona State UniversityMNPublic50317852
Loyola University MarylandMDPrivate79313629
Juniata CollegePAPrivate72313539
Loyola Marymount UniversityCAPrivate67303549
The College of Saint ScholasticaMNPrivate542610408
Whittier CollegeCAPrivate50266003
Saint Edward's UniversityTXPrivate52259485
Merrimack CollegeMAPrivate632413951
Dean CollegeMAPrivate622310158
Columbia International UniversitySCPrivate50237911
Albany College of Pharmacy and Health SciencesNYPrivate682216348
University of New EnglandMEPrivate512214220
Randolph CollegeVAPrivate63229516
Trinity UniversityTXPrivate69224868
Indiana Wesleyan UniversityINPrivate56223781
Marywood UniversityPAPrivate512112767
College of Saint BenedictMNPrivate722110983
Keene State CollegeNHPublic56216763
Guilford CollegeNCPrivate55215171
Arcadia UniversityPAPrivate542013931
Worcester Polytechnic InstituteMAPrivate652013580
The Richard Stockton College of New JerseyNJPublic612012615
Clarke UniversityIAPrivate492010042
Saint Ambrose UniversityIAPrivate49207521
Seton Hall UniversityNJPrivate521917661
Massachusetts Maritime AcademyMAPublic611913701
Concordia College at MoorheadMNPrivate621810682
Saint Johns UniversityMNPrivate731810266
Salem CollegeNCPrivate52189424
Westminster CollegePAPrivate62188437
Saint Francis UniversityPAPrivate521714062
Austin CollegeTXPrivate69178817
Illinois Wesleyan UniversityILPrivate77175452
Endicott CollegeMAPrivate621616277
Salve Regina UniversityRIPrivate681613097
DeSales UniversityPAPrivate691514627
Saint Joseph's College of MaineMEPrivate491513221
Augustana CollegeSDPrivate49159496
University of MaineMEPublic55159384
Gustavus Adolphus CollegeMNPrivate80158740
Case Western Reserve UniversityOHPrivate60157442
North Central CollegeILPrivate50154915
Coe CollegeIAPrivate61154469

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