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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Average student grad debt constant at $16K

    Average student grad debt constant at $16K

    The average UA student will graduate with debt equivalent to the cost of a nicely-equipped Chevy Cobalt, according to a study released last week.

    Last year, UA students owed an average of $16,012 in debt, down from $17,772 in 2001.

    Arizona ranked 23rd highest in the nation for student debt in 2005, according to a report by Project On Student Debt, a national student financial education and research organization.

    But ranking a school by the overall average debt is like putting a stick in a river to test the diving depth, said John Nametz, director of student financial aid.

    Nametz said there are many areas to consider other than just the overall numbers.

    “”I want to find out what the average debt is based on different family incomes,”” said Nametz, adding that his department will be working with data from the Arizona Board of Regents meeting last week to determine this.

    Nametz said he thinks the $16,000 average debt is not atypical, but there are also students who run the gamut from $5,000 to $40,000 when they graduate.

    Despite the increases in tuition every year, the average amount of debt has hovered around $16,000 since 2001.

    “”What the UA has done is provide needy students with enough institutional aid to offset tuition increases,”” Nametz said.

    The average debt for universities in the state of Arizona was $16,564, while Arizona State University’s average debt was $17,016.

    Debt in some form is a problem for most college students, said Jing Xiao, a professor in family and consumer sciences and director of Take Charge America Institute, an organization that focuses on finance education programs and research.

    “”Some people never pay their debts off,”” Xiao said jokingly. “”But I think now a lot of people get married and debts affect their life and family.””

    Xiao said students should avoid paying off their loans with a credit card because of the high interest rates.

    Mike Cassady, an ecology and evolutionary biology senior, said he plans to defer his loans until after graduate school and then pay them back as slowly as possible.

    “”I need the money more than the government does,”” he said.

    Every February, financial aid sends out “”Valentines”” to students reminding them of the March 1 deadline to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, Nametz said.

    If a student missed the deadline or realizes too late that he or she needs some help financially, it’s OK because financial aid is still available, Nametz said.

    “”This time of year our staff likes to see ‘recent’ applicants,”” Nametz said. “”There is no such thing as a ‘late’ applicant.””

    Other students feel comical despair.

    The Facebook group “”Hit me with a car…I don’t want to pay back my student loans,”” lists two ways to get out of paying off loans: 1.) Get permanently handicapped or 2.) Die.

    “”That’s pretty harsh,”” Cassady said. “”I don’t think I want to do either of those.””

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