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Graduate Debt


Students continue to rely on loans to finance their postsecondary education. The Office of Higher Education surveyed Minnesota postsecondary institutions to collect data on cumulative student loan debt on graduates over the past three years. The report [ Appendix ] includes cumulative median debt for students receiving sub-baccalaureate certificates, associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, doctorates and first-professional degrees in Minnesota by institution.

Median Debt Among Minnesota Graduates by Degree Type, 2012-2015

Median Debt Among Minnesota Graduates by Degree Type, 2012-2015

Source: Minnesota Office of Higher Education

Cumulative Debt Data

  • Students continue to rely on loans to finance their postsecondary education.
  • Student debt increases as the level of degree and specialization increases.
  • Debt varies widely from institution to institution, even those within the same sector.
  • Students graduating from private for-profit institutions are more likely to have taken out loans, and at larger amounts, than similar graduates from other types of institutions. Graduates from this sector also had higher than average default rates  both in Minnesota and nationally.
  • At the sub-baccalaureate certificate level, students graduating from for-profit institutions borrow similar amounts, on average, as students at public and private non-profit institutions.
  • At the associate degree level, a higher percentage of students graduating from private for-profit institutions took out loans than graduates at other types of institutions, and borrowed larger amounts.
  • At the bachelor's degree level, about two-thirds of graduates had debt. At, $26,822 the median debt of 2014-2015 graduates was slightly lower than 2011-2012 graduates, even though more students had debt.
  • Graduates from all sectors, except from for-profit institutions, had similar median debt upon graduation.
  • Despite ranking near the top nationally in average student debt, Minnesota students' default rates are below the national average.

About Cumulative Debt Data

Cumulative student loan debt refers to the total debt a student incurred while attending and graduating from the same institution to complete a certificate or degree. The debt figures include debt from federal, state and private sources that is known to the institution while the student was in attendance. Any debt incurred from any previous institution attendance, if not the graduating institution, is not included. For students completing graduate degrees (master's level or higher) debt data was only reported for their graduate degree, and did not include any undergraduate debt they may have incurred. Students who had no debt are not included in the median.

This report provides data on median debt. Median is the value for which half of borrowers borrowed more and half borrowed less. Many reports on student debt use average debt, rather than median debt.

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