Student debt levels rise at UI, ISU and decrease at UNI

After declines last year, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University both saw their most recent average student debt levels increase, according to a new report released Thursday.

The University of Northern Iowa saw average student loan debt decrease for the second year in a row, according to the annual student financial aid report that will go to the state Board of Regents next week.

Average indebtedness for students graduating with debt in 2011-12 was $26,296 at the UI, up from $25,446 the prior year. At ISU, average debt was $29,573 in 2011-12, up from $29,324 the year before.

UNI's average debt was $23,575 for 2012 graduates, down from $25,523 the year prior. UNI saw decreases in all the categories listed in the report -- average indebtedness, average debt for Iowa residents, average need-based debt and average need-based debt for Iowa residents.

The UI saw increases in all those categories in 2011-12, and ISU saw increases in all but one of those areas.

The average debt for Iowa residents who graduated with debt last year was $25,415 at the UI, $28,940 at ISU and $23,496 at UNI.

The average need-based indebtedness for Iowa residents who graduated last year was $11,752 at the UI, $13,899 at ISU and $12,560 at UNI.

The number of students graduating without debt last year was 41 percent at the UI (32 percent for Iowa residents); 32 percent at ISU (26 percent for Iowa residents); and 24 percent at UNI (22 percent for Iowa residents). Nationally, 43 percent of graduating seniors at public four-year institutions in 2010-11 had no debt.

The report also shows that the rate of total tuition dollars set aside to be used as financial aid for students last year was 24 percent at ISU, 21 percent at the UI and 18 percent at UNI. The regents have voted to end the tuition set-aside program after some controversy about it, and asked for state money to create a new aid fund to replace it for Iowa's neediest students.

Financial aid to students at Iowa's public universities topped $1 billion for the first time last year, up 6 percent from the prior year.


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