Solutions for Higher Education engages in deeper reflection of critical issues in the world of colleges and universities.
In Episode 36, President Scott L. Wyatt and Professor Steve Meredith are joined by Dr. Roger LaMarca to discuss the risk-return ratio of student debt and ways to mitigate debt while getting an education. LaMarca is the executive director of enrollment management at Southern Utah University.
Student debt is a growing concern in America, with more and more students starting their professional careers with an increasing amount of debt.
“The national average is around $37,000 in debt for an undergraduate degree,” said LaMarca. “However, the state of Utah is the lowest in the country, with an average student debt of $18,425. In addition, 61 percent of students graduate without any student debt at all, and that's a very exciting number.”
For many students it can be difficult to finish a degree without taking on some debt, but choosing a program that is more affordable, like SUU, can make a big difference.
“44 percent of college students say that they had to cut back on living expenses,” said LaMarca. “28 percent said they had to put off major goals, like buying a house, and 37 percent said that they had to put off saving for retirement. If you're taking out huge amounts of loans and you're paying for these very expensive educations, it's going to delay your ability to do other things.”
Even though SUU is more affordable than many other universities, the average SUU student with student loans still has $16,000 in debt when they graduate. This shouldn’t scare potential students away from pursuing a college degree.
“The average person who graduates from college with a bachelor's degree will make a million dollars more over their life than a person who starts working right out of high school,” said Wyatt. “$16,000 is an investment to make a million dollars. An investment in ourselves is the greatest investment we can make.”
Listen to Episode 36 here.