This story was originally published by the FVSU Review.
When students graduate from college, these days, they often leave with more than just a degree. Debt rates for college students are rising. According to The Institute of College Access and Success (TICAS), 71 percent of American 2012 college seniors graduated with an average of $29,400 per borrower.
However, students earning degrees at Fort Valley State University will enter the workforce with a lower level of debt compared to their peers. Recently, TICAS ranked the university seventh in the nation for having the lowest levels of debt per students in its new study, "Project on Student Debt," released on December 2013. FVSU students left with a debt average of $8,263. Other low-debt universities named to the list were Princeton, Howard, Hampton, Gallaudet and California State.
TICAS is an independent, nonprofit organization working to make higher education more available and affordable to all individuals. The report was authored by researchers Matthew Reed and Debbie Cochrane, who collected data for the study from the Common Data Set, a shared survey instrument used by the U.S. News & World Report, Peterson's Guide and the College Board. State college debt averages were calculated using data voluntarily reported by campus officials at 1,075 college campuses across the nation.
According to the institute, college-debt levels varied due to differences in tuition and fees, local-area living experiences, the graduating class' demographic makeup, and availability of need-based aid from colleges and states. The group says that students and families look at a university's published tuition and fees as an indicator of its affordability. The organization advised families seeking affordable colleges to always examine the full cost of attendance on a college campus (including book and supply fees, living expenses, such as room and board, and transportation and personal expenses.
Low-debt colleges had average debt levels of $4,450 and $11,750 per student, in spite of a wider cost range of attending. Of the 20 colleges who made the list, eight were public universities, and 12 were private, nonprofit institutions.
The study also found that Georgia ranked number 37 overall in the nation for student debt. Individuals in the state carried an average debt amount of $23,089. Delaware students had the highest levels at $33,649. New Mexico students had the lowest amounts with an average of $17,994 per person. North Dakota and Hawaii did not participate in TICAS study.
To reduce debt levels, TICAS advised that colleges and universities reduce students' need to borrow, provide them with key information about paying for college and collect better information on student debt and outcomes.
To view the "Project on Student Debt" study, please visit www.projectonstudentdebt.org.