Below is a guest post.
Jimmy Houghton is a CFP with three boys in high school preparing to enter college. As they seek to find the perfect schools for themselves, he urges them to consider the costs of attending each. Aside from his work, he enjoys writing about personal finance and blogging.
College graduates typically fare better in the job market than those with only a high school degree. However, as many high school graduates looking at colleges quickly learn, the cost of education is skyrocketing. By many estimates, the average cost for both tuition and fees for the 2016-2017 academic year was around $34,000 at private colleges and about $10,000 for residents attending state public colleges. Non-residents at state colleges spent an average of $25,000. Those are all national averages, but it can be helpful to look at the variances between schools within a particular state as well.
Even more so, it can be helpful to take a look at how much debt graduates actually have when leaving school, since the average cost of attendance doesn’t give an accurate picture of which schools are more generous with scholarships, which are in areas that are cheaper to live in, or any of the other variables that make a noticeable difference to how much debt you’re likely to walk away with. If you’re wondering where New Jersey stands when it comes to the schools where students graduate with the most debt, here are the top five.
Stevens Institute of Technology
First on our list is Stevens Institute of Technology, which is a private college focusing primarily on research programs in engineering, science, and management. Part of the reason this school is number one on our list of schools that give students the most debt might be because of the high cost of tuition. To attend SIT during the 2016-2017 academic year came to around $50,000 for tuition and fees alone. One perk, though: each incoming student is given a free laptop that is preconfigured with software specifically tailored to his or her major. While this is a nice bonus, we can’t help but note that it’s a one-time perk that comes with a side of large student loan bills for the majority of its alumni. Unfortunately, a high proportion of students also use private student debt, in addition to federal student debt, thus increasing the long term interest costs for students. About three-quarters of its graduates have both federal and private student loan debt.
The second spot on our list goes to Bloomfield College, located in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Tuition, fees, and other expenses for the 2016-2017 school year come to $29,000, which is fairly reasonable considering the cost of tuition both nationally and within New Jersey. Its graduates’ average debt is $47,000 and about 95% of its graduates have student loan debt. Bloomfield College is a historically Presbyterian liberal arts college.
Georgian Court University
Georgian Court University comes in third, with 89% of their students graduating with debt averaging almost $41,000. That’s significantly more than their yearly combined tuition and fees for full-time undergraduate students, which comes to roughly $32,000 for the 2016-2017 academic year. GCU is a Catholic college founded by the Sisters of Mercy. Its daytime undergraduate student body was women-only until 2013, when the school became fully co-educational. Students at GCU attend the School of Education, School of Arts & Sciences, or School of Business & Digital Media.
Tuition and fees for 2016-2017 at the fourth school on our list, Centenary College, run $32,098 a year. However, a whopping 100% of their graduates have student loan debt (the highest on our list) and it averages $40,588 per person when their four years are up. Centenary is a small liberal arts college offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, and it is located in Hackettstown, New Jersey.
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Last on our list is the New Jersey Institute of Technology, located in Newark, New Jersey. Unlike most on our list, this school is a public institution, and in-state tuition and fees comes to an affordable $16,000. Non-residents paying out-of-state prices were charged almost double that, however, with 2016-2017 costs coming in at $30,326. This college is a public research institution with programs in engineering, business, science, architecture, and technology fields. Of the five schools highlighted on this list, it has both the lowest average debt upon graduation ($37,195) and the lowest percentage of graduates with student loan debt (62%). In fact, among institutes of higher education in the entire state of New Jersey, it has one of the lowest percentages of graduates with debt, even though its average debt puts it on our top five list.