decorative banner image

Minnesota Students Borrowing Less


Contact: Sandy Connolly, Director of Communications
Office of Higher Education
(651) 259-3902

St. Paul, MN -- Student borrowing for some degrees in Minnesota is leveling off and even decreasing slightly, according to a new report from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE).

Cumulative Student Loan Debt in Minnesota takes a comprehensive look at how much Minnesota students are borrowing, what types of schools they are attending and their level of completion. Data was obtained by surveying all Minnesota institutions that participate in federal and state student aid programs, with 100 percent of the schools participating. This data is more precise and complete than the national data used previously.

According to this report, borrowing for a bachelor's degree was down slightly between 2012 and 2013; borrowing for certificates leveled off, while debt levels for associate and master's degrees increased slightly.

In addition, the average amount borrowed per student in Federal Direct Stafford Loans declined by 4 percent from 2011 to 2013. These federal loans make up roughly 85 percent of all student loans in Minnesota.

"Over the past decade, college tuition has increased by more than three times the rate of inflation and family incomes, triggering similar increases in student debt," said Commissioner Larry Pogemiller. "While the decrease in borrowing indicated in this report is modest, it represents a positive trend the Governor and policymakers can work to reinforce."

Increased grant amounts due to an overall drop in postsecondary enrollment, increased financial literacy efforts and increased institutional scholarships each contributed to the new debt numbers.

Looking forward, Pogemiller cites Governor Dayton's historic investment in the Minnesota State Grant program as a way to reduce student debt, as well as the 2-year tuition freeze at MnSCU and the UMN paid for by the Governor and state legislature.

Another change in this year's report is that instead of looking at average student debt, which can be skewed by a few high borrowers, median debt is emphasized, which is the point where half of borrowers borrowed more and half borrowed less.

The median debt of bachelor's degree recipients in Minnesota in 2012 was $27,517, $3,500 less than the average student debt for the same period.

The report continues to demonstrate that despite relying on borrowing to complete their postsecondary education, Minnesota students have lower default rates than most peer states and the nation.

View Cumulative Student Loan Debt in Minnesota.

For more information, contact Sandy Connolly at 651-259-3902 or by email at

Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view.

Download Adobe Acrobat Reader