Hillsdale ranked sixth in the comparison of colleges and universities with the lowest amount of average student debt per borrower, according to the report that came out earlier this month from LendEDU.
“Hillsdale College gives the average student borrower $26,941 in student loan debt, the sixth lowest average figure in Michigan,” the report reads. “Hillsdale College’s average debt per borrower figure has experienced a year-over-year decrease of 5.92 percent.”
Concordia University Ann Arbor is ranked first for lowest average debt per borrower, with an average debt of $20,641, according to the report. The next four schools are University of Michigan, Kuyper College, University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Olivet College.
There’s a reason why Hillsdale’s debt is lower than many Michigan colleges, according to Rich Moeggenberg, Hillsdale’s Financial Aid Director.
“It certainly speaks to our commitment to fund scholarship monies, look at the budget and the average gift aid, and compare our costs to other four-year privates: our billed costs, when compared to other four year private institutions, in general, is pretty cheap,” Moeggenberg said.
“We’ve made a commitment to replace federal and state fundings since 1986, and because of the generosity of friends of the college, there is a significant amount of scholarship money we use to attract students in the form of merit-based money,” Moeggenberg continued.
“We’re competitive,” Moeggenberg said. “We attract students who have strong academic backgrounds, especially in recent years. It’s not easy to get into Hillsdale anymore, and I think that assessment for merit-based monies remains very competitive. We have many students qualifying for merit-based scholarships as they matriculate.”
According to the report, Michigan colleges are more expensive than most other states: “As an entire state, Michigan’s average debt per student borrower figure currently stands at $30,327, which is the 11th highest figure in the entire country.”
“Michigan’s average debt per borrower figure has increased 1.81 percent year-over-year,” the report continues. “Also, 64 percent of all college graduates from the state of Michigan leave their school holding some amount of student loan debt.”
And Hillsdale students are not exempt from student loans, as much as the Financial Aid office helps. Marketing major Joshua Liebhauser ’18 is going to graduate with student debt, but not as much as he would at other private institutions.
“I wanted [the student loans] to be less than what I owe, but my tuition is covered by all of my grants and scholarships,” Liebhauser said. “The debt I’ve been taking on for the last year and a half has been for rent, which is unavoidable.”
Liebhauser plans to get a job in marketing and pay off his debt within five or six years, but the reason he was able to attend Hillsdale was the amount of financial aid he received.
Liebhauser has three different kinds of financial aid that help him pay for college and which drew him to Hillsdale instead of of colleges like Grove City and Patrick Henry College.
“It wasn’t the cheapest, though,” Liebhauser said. “I had a full-ride scholarship from a state school in Indiana.”
Liebhauser understands some debt may be unavoidable but better than many other students.
“It hurts, but it’s more manageable than most people graduating from other colleges,” Liebhauser said. “I was careful with my choice of major.”