Lowering student debt

The university is right to prioritize graduating in four years over small raises in tuition.

We admire Temple for choosing a president who is well-versed in financial management. President Theobald, the former CFO at Indiana University, told The Temple News last week that one of the biggest issues facing students isn’t tuition hikes, but the debt that accumulates with extra and unexpected semesters at the end of a college career.

“I’m actually less concerned about tuition than I am by debt,” he said. “Debt limits your options once you graduate. … If you take a look at differences across students and how much debt they take on, how long it takes to get their degree is the primary deterrent.”

The president’s concerns are right where they should be. The nation’s Class of 2015 broke the record for the highest average student debt of any class with $35,000 per student, according to government data analyzed by Edvisors, a student finance consulting group.

As debt holds a spot in every student’s mind, the price of an additional year or an unanticipated extra semester of classes can blindside a student who has to take out student loans. In comparison, the price of a two percent raise in tuition seems miniscule to the thousands of extra dollars a student faces in their fifth year at Temple.

The four-year graduation rate – currently set at about 50 percent – is up about six percent from 2013. The program allows incoming students the opportunity to map out a plan and follow some guidelines, like regular visits with their advisors, that will ensure graduation in four years.

Theobald’s priority of getting students their degrees on time is well-placed, for the financial repercussions of failing to do so are far more catastrophic than a raise in tuition.

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