College loans and debt often burden students for decades after graduation; however, students graduating from the University of North Florida have less to worry about. UNF ranks among the Top 25 public institutions across the country with the lowest student default rate, according to new data released from the United States Department of Education.
UNF tied for No. 25 in the nation with UCLA, Georgia Tech and the University of Wisconsin. UNF also has a lower loan default rate than almost every other Florida public university, including the University of Florida and Florida State University, and a better rate than such institutions as the University of Virginia.
Most of the universities with lower rates than UNF are medical and health sciences schools or schools offering only a narrow range of programs. If such limited-focus schools are disregarded, UNF is tied for No. 5 in the country.
“This is further evidence of the outstanding value of a UNF education,” said Dr. Jay Coleman, UNF vice president of data analytics. “It’s also a by-product of the stellar employment rates and starting salaries of our graduates, which are among the best in the State University System.”
The Cohort Default Rate (CDR) is the percentage of borrowers from a school who default after three years. According to the U.S. Department of Education, UNF’s 2016 cohort loan default rate is 1.3 percent, with the national default rate at over 10 percent and 9.6 percent at public universities. More than 500 public universities were tracked by the U.S. Department of Education. There were a total of 458,687 defaulters of the more than 4.5 million student loan borrowers who entered repayment in fiscal year 2016.
“Our students have learned to borrow wisely. The average borrower indebtedness is over $19,000, which is well below the Florida average of $24,428 and national average of $29,800 for 2018 graduates,” said Anissa Agne, UNF senior director of Financial Aid. “Along with our institutional commitment to grants and scholarships, UNF also provides financial literacy opportunities. The synergy of these efforts, along with smart borrowing by our students, have all contributed to this outcome. “
The 2016 graduate cohort consists of borrowers who entered repayment during the time period October 1, 2015, to September 30, 2016, and includes any borrower with a loan who graduated or dropped below half time for six months during the period of time listed above. Students who are granted a forbearance (due to economic hardship) or are granted deferment (in school, military service, etc.) aren’t included.
The CDR is the one outcomes-based accountability tool the Department has for colleges and universities. Schools can be subject to loss of eligibility for the Direct Loan program and/or the Pell Grant program if their default rates are 30% or greater for three consecutive years, or 40% or greater for one year. Default rates that high show that schools are leaving large swaths of their students unable to repay their debt.
UNF is a nationally ranked university in Jacksonville, Florida, that is nestled on a beautiful 1,300-acre nature preserve, featuring six colleges of distinction as well as nationally recognized flagship programs, with 56 bachelor degree programs and over 75 areas of concentration.