Ky. universities' price tags don't always correlate with Ky. students' debt

05/03/2013 01:11 PM

The price of going to Kentucky’s public universities doesn’t necessarily translate to how much debt students incur — or whether they default on their loans.

A review of Kentucky’s eight public university’s performance measurements on the White House College Scorecard shows, for instance, that Northern Kentucky University has the lowest average actual cost to students ($7,834 per year) but the highest per-student-debt ($17,105, or $196.84 a month).

The University of Kentucky has the highest average cost in the state at $12,916, which is still considered low compared to similar institutions nationally, according to the White House analysis. It’s students still borrow on average $15,712. But UK has the lowest rate of students defaulting on those loans, 4.3 percent, in the state. That’s far below the 13.4 percent national average.

UK also boasts 59.2 percent graduation rate, which just barely gets UK into the White House’s category of “high” graduation levels.

Gov. Steve Beshear told Pure Politics this week that that affordability was a major consideration when he urged the Council on Postsecondary Education to adopt a 3 percent tuition increase cap last month.

And all these issues are likely to be factored in as lawmakers begin considering state funding levels for the eight public universities.

Former Rep. Carl Rollins, a Democrat from Midway who chaired the House Education Committee until leaving the legislature to take another state job last month, had said he wanted to spend part of 2013 studying the universities’ budgeting process and how they decide on funding for scholarships. And he had suggested the legislature could decide upon funding levels based on universities’ performance.

He told Pure Politics he expects the Senate Education Committee Chairman Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, to carry on that work.

Here’s a breakdown of how Kentucky’s universities fared in the White House scorecard (Net price is what undergraduate students pay after grants and scholarships, which they don’t have to pay back):

*University of Kentucky *
Undergrads: 20,099
Avg. net price for in-state undergrads: $12,916 per year (high end of LOW)
Avg. net price increased 7.5% from 2007 to 2009
Graduation rate: 59.2% (low end of HIGH)
Loan default rate: 4.3% (lower than 13.4% national average)
Median borrowing: $180.81 a month, $15,712 overall (low end of MEDIUM)

Western Kentucky University
Undergrads: 17,970
Avg. net price: $11,077 per year (middle of LOW)
Avg net price increased 8.1% from 2007 to 2009
Graduation rate: 49.7% (MEDIUM)
Loan default rate: 12.1% (lower than 13.4% national average)
Median borrowing: $194.51 a month, $16,902 overall (MEDIUM)

University of Louisville
Undergrads: 15,596
Avg. net price: $12,169 per year (high end of LOW)
Avg. net price increased 9.9% from 2007 to 2009
Graduation rate: 50.8% (MEDIUM)
Loan default rate: 7.7% (lower than 13.4% national average)
Median borrowing: $161.11 a month, $14,000 overall (high end of LOW)

Eastern Kentucky University
Undergrads: 13,902
Avg. net price: $11,867 per year (middle of LOW)
Avg net price decreased -1.1% from 2007 to 2009
Graduation rate: 37.6% (LOW)
Loan default rate: 12.3% (lower than 13.4% national average)
Median borrowing: $169.74 a month, $14,750 overall (LOW)

Northern Kentucky University
Undergrads: 12,993
Avg. net price: $7,834 per year (LOW)
Avg. net price decreased -10.5% from 2007 to 2009
Graduation rate: 37% (high end of LOW)
Loan default rate: 10.9% (lower than 13.4% national average)
Median borrowing: $196.84 a month, $17,105 overall (MEDIUM)

Morehead State University
Undergrads: 9,417
Avg. net price: $8,989 per year (LOW)
Avg. net price increased 8.7% from 2007 to 2009
Graduation rate: 40.4% (low end of MEDIUM)
Loan default rate: 12.4% (lower than 13.4% national average)
Median borrowing: $178.03 a month, $15,470 overall (low end of MEDIUM)

Murray State University
Undergrads: 8,664
Avg. net price: $9,381 per year (middle of LOW)
Avg. net price increased 27.4% from 2007 to 2009
Graduation rate: 52.4% (MEDIUM)
Loan default rate: 8% (lower than 13.4% national average)
Median borrowing: $175.50 a month, $15,250 overall (Just into MEDIUM)

Kentucky State University
Undergrads: 2,490
Avg. net price: $9,085 per year (middle of LOW)
Avg. net price increased 18.0% from 2007 to 2009
Graduation rate: 21.4% (LOW), while 49.9% transferred
Loan default rate: 20.7% (higher than 13.4% national average)
Median borrowing: $186.57 a month, $16,212 overall (MEDIUM)

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