EdMedia Commons Archive

Many Admissions Directors Say $30,000 (or More) in Student Loan Debt Is ‘Reasonable’

While student loan debt has become a critical issue for those seeking college degrees, many admissions  directors say it is ‘reasonable’ for undergraduate students to accumulate tens of thousands of dollars in debt to finance their education, according to a survey released today by Inside Higher Ed.

Student loan debt will be a focus of this year’s journalists-only Higher Education Seminar, “Degrees vs. Debt: Making College More Affordable” on Nov. 2-3. EWA does offer scholarships to cover travel costs. Apply for a scholarship here.

IHE, in partnership with Gallup, collected surveys from the senior admissions administrator at 576 two-year and four-year colleges and universities. According to IHE’s article on the survey:

“The Project on Student Debt has used federal data and projections to estimate the average amount of debt at graduation from a four-year program to be about $25,250. The admissions directors in this survey were given a range of debt levels and asked to pick the one that was ‘reasonable’ for a four-year program. A plurality (42 percent) among all admissions directors picked $20,000 to less than $30,000 — the current level. But in the public sector, a majority of admissions directors selected debt levels less than $20,000 as the maximum reasonable sum, while fully half of private admissions directors were comfortable with the range of $20,000 to less than $30,000 — and of those who didn’t pick that level, more selected higher than lower levels of debt as reasonable.

The willingness of almost all admissions directors to accept debt — and some to accept substantial amounts of debt — may reflect a change in attitude from just a few years ago. In 2007 and 2008, many of the wealthiest (and most expensive, by sticker price) colleges were announcing plans to eliminate debt entirely or to eliminate debt for those below certain income levels, while limiting debt load to $10,000 or so for those above the maximum income levels. As the recession has dragged on, however, some of those institutions — among them Cornell University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology – have moved away from “no loans” policies or raised debt limits.”

You can learn more about the subject of college affordability in EWA’s Story Starters on College Access & Admissions and Higher Education Finance.

This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.