Student debt. No one wants to talk about it since it affects almost everyone. It holds itself in infamy, especially for college students. Even though student debt is depressing, it should not devalue the importance of financial literacy. Financial literacy, or lack thereof, has been a taboo topic at Benedictine University and it has made a slight resurgence due to fellow Candor writer and video news editor, Zaakirah Mujid, who made a video regarding Benedictine’s rank of undergraduate average student debt. Benedictine was ranked 9th in the highest undergraduate student debt in comparison to other Illinois universities. However, there have been many questions about the ranking and where the information comes from.
Lendedu, a website that strives to inform consumers to learn about and compare financial products, compiled stats of student loan debt across the United States. On the website, this table will emerge with four columns. In each column, it lists each school, it’s debt amounts during the 2018 school year, and the changes from the class of 2017. The numbers have been bolded to emphasize the importance of that figure. In the first line under it, for example, the table shows Northeastern Illinois University’s average student loan debt per borrower of $16,220. It follows the same pattern for the rest of the universities. The table also provides the state rank for the university. Northeastern Illinois has a state rank of 1 while Principia College has a state rank of 5. The state ranks correspond with the average student loan debt per borrower. With this in mind, the next table will make more sense especially for anyone curious about Benedictine’s ranking.
Benedictine ranking has a state rank of 28 for its measure on average student loan debt per borrower at $33,295, which is much higher than Northeastern Illinois’s average student loan debt. If Benedictine ranks 28th out 36 schools but ranks 9th in the highest average student loan debt in the state of Illinois, what does this say about the value of a Benedictine University education in comparison to cheaper schools or more prestigious ones?
My opinion on this is that Benedictine should be offering better quality education in terms of teaching and content for the cost of tuition. Also, everyone should consider the program, college costs, and how much they might need to borrow to attend a university. There are always alternatives to the university program of choice and the cost of a university. There could be several students who loan out without realizing how much they loan out.
So why does Benedictine University have such a high average loan debt per borrower? I have some potential explanations for this. Before 2016, Benedictine University had offered classes about financial literacy and how to handle student debt. This was from 2008 – 2014 from multiple sources. However, the class enrollment began to decrease which indicated disinterest in the topic. Because of this, the financial literacy classes disappeared from Benedictine. However, some organizations have offered financial literacy insights and discussions such as the Accounting Club. As a college student, I feel that everyone attends college to expand their minds and learn about the real world. It is not a perfect system but, students want to learn real-world topics. Real-world topics include financial literacy, paying rent, time management, and professional development.