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VOL. 40 | NO. 44 | Friday, October 28, 2016

Myths and facts about small private colleges

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Myth: Many students owe more than $100,000 when they graduate.

Fact: In 2014, only 4 percent of all borrowers owed $100,000 or more in student debt. The average debt level of bachelor’s degree recipients at private colleges and universities is $19,300 – less than the price of a modest automobile and the same level as in 2006-07. Meanwhile, debt at public institutions continues to rise.

Myth: High levels of student debt make private colleges unaffordable.

Fact: One quarter of students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from a four-year private college or university did not have any educational debt. For those with debt, the difference between the average debt levels for graduates of public versus private institutions is only $4,100.

Myth: The problem with high levels of debt is even worse because students don’t pay back their loans.

Fact: Students at private colleges are less likely to default on their student loans than those who attend for-profit and public institutions. In the most recent year, only 6 percent of private college students defaulted on their loans, less than half the rate of students at for-profit institutions.

Myth: Only wealthy families can afford to send their children to private colleges.

Fact: Private colleges enroll students of all financial backgrounds. In fact, private nondoctoral colleges enroll a larger proportion of low-income students than do public institutions.

Myth: It is difficult to receive financial aid at private colleges.

Fact: A larger proportion of students at private colleges receive financial aid than do students at public institutions. Students enrolled at private colleges are almost twice as likely to receive grants from their college as are students enrolled at public institutions.

Myth: All students enrolled at private colleges pay the same high tuition (irrespective of family income).

Fact: On average, the actual amount students pay at private colleges is less than 60 percent of the total cost of tuition. Students with lower family incomes pay a much lower percentage of the total costs.

Source: The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC)

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