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UMFK grads have the least debt among nation's public college students

December 28, 2012

NR12124

According to a report issued this week by the nationally-recognized U.S. News & World Report, recent graduates of the University of Maine at Fort Kent carry the least amount of average education debt upon graduation than any public college or university in the nation. The average debt load for a 2011 UMFK graduate was a miserly $9,505.

UMFK was included among a listing of the top 10 colleges where borrowers owed an average of about $10,000, or less, at graduation. UMFK was the top-rated public higher education institution on the U.S. News “Short List” of 10 Colleges Where Graduates Have the Least Debt. The list also included such venerable institutions as Princeton and Yale universities.

Nation-wide, sixty-eight percent of graduates in the class of 2011 borrowed to help pay for college, according to data reported by 1,033 ranked colleges in a 2012 U.S. News survey. On average, those students had $26,220 in debt. The debt data used in these calculations include loans taken out by students from colleges, financial institutions, and federal, state, and local governments, and exclude any loans taken by parents.

“At a time when we read about college graduates being burdened with debt, it is refreshing to see firm evidence that Maine's public universities offer affordable pathways to a bachelor's degree and economic opportunity. The low debt of UMFK graduates shows what a great value and tremendous return on investment a UMFK education is,” said President Wilson G. Hess.

U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for its 2012 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas. While U.S. News uses much of the survey data to rank schools for its annual Best Colleges rankings, the data also can be useful when examined on a smaller scale.

In September, UMFK once again was ranked among the top 15 public colleges in the North, according to the 2013 edition of U.S. News & World Report's Best Regional Colleges.

Says Hess, “First came the ‘Best Colleges' ranking. . . and now ‘least debt.' Whether in the classroom or online, UMFK offers a complete package of quality and affordability for high school graduates or adults returning to college.”

The U.S. News Short List is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas.

U.S. News now produces lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means by which to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News's rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools.

The indebtedness data used by U.S. News & World Report are correct as of December 26, 2012.