Students who graduated from Washington colleges are carrying less debt than students from many other states, a new survey shows.
Here’s one survey where it’s good that Washington is ranked near the bottom: the average amount of student-loan debt.
Students who graduated from Washington colleges in 2016 have among the lowest average student-loan debt when compared to grads in the rest of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to a survey by LendEDU, a New Jersey company that offers student-loan refinancing.
The state as a whole ranks 45th. On average, Washington student graduates had $24,164 in average debt per borrower in 2016, the latest year for which figures were available. That’s a 3 percent decrease from students who graduated in the class of 2015.
Nationwide, the average amount of student-loan debt for the class of 2016 is $27,975. That’s down about 1.5 percent from the class of 2015.
Education Lab is a Seattle Times project that spotlights promising approaches to persistent challenges in public education. It is produced in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network and is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Washington’s lower student debt makes sense, given that, in 2015, state lawmakers cut the cost of going to school for in-state students studying at public universities. Tuition dropped 5 percent in 2015, and as much as 20 percent, depending on the school, in 2016.
The public university whose students had the smallest amount of student debt per borrower was the University of Washington Tacoma; there, about 51 percent of students had debt, and the average was $18,420.
The university with the highest debt per student: Washington State University, with $25,874 average debt per borrower. About 58 percent of WSU grads had student debt.
The University of Washington Seattle was somewhere in the middle, with $21,900 average student debt per borrower. Only about 40 percent of UW Seattle grads had student debt, the smallest percentage among the state’s four-year universities.
Among the state’s private schools, the University of Puget Sound ranked highest for the largest student debt per borrower, at $34,140; about half the class of 2016 had student debt.
The private college with the lowest average student debt per borrower was Whitman College, at $18,098. About 38 percent of Whitman students had debt.
Nationally, the most indebted students graduated from schools in Pennsylvania. They carried an average debt load of more than $35,000.
On the West Coast, the state with the least-indebted students was California. Students who graduate from schools in the Golden State carry an average debt of $22,488.