By Eric Stock
NORMAL - Illinois State University students are paying back student loans at a much higher rate than other students in Illinois and across the country.
ISU's student loan default rate is three percent. The state average is 14.4 percent and the national average is 13.4 percent, according to new figures released by the U.S. Department of Education.
“Our caliber of students remains high,” said Jonathan Rosenthal, associate provost for undergraduate education. “Students are borrowing more money, there’s no question about it, but they are getting jobs and have the ability to repay a relatively modest student loan debt.”
ISU officials attribute the low default rate to its increase in financial aid. The university offered $26 million in scholarships and grants this year. The university also says it has attracted high-achieving students who are more likely to graduate and find a job in their field.
“We are working to keep loan debt low,” said ISU's director of Financial Aid, Jana Albrecht, “When students ask about borrowing, we walk them through the different types of loans, showing them their estimated loan debt and the repayment schedule. We encourage them to look for scholarships and work rather than take out more loans.”
ISU's graduation rate of 71 percent is the second highest in the state among public colleges and universities.
Eric Stock can be reached at email@example.com.