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Student debt reduction moving in the right direction


Editor's note: (updated Oct. 25, 2021) This content was adjusted to clarify the important role staff advisors play in supporting students.

Across all of Indiana University's campuses, our students are graduating with less loan debt. Nearly half of our undergraduates are leaving the commencement stage with no debt. For those students who do borrow funds to help pay for college, their average total debt at graduation for 2020-21 was $26,201.

While the downward slope we've seen in student debt is one we'd like to make even steeper, we are moving in the right direction -- placing our students in the best position to thrive upon graduation. 

The approach we've taken to make these reduced debt numbers possible is multifaceted. A key component is informing students of how much they borrow and providing them with financial education that emphasizes degree completion in four years. Our advisors work with students to help them stay on track to graduate in four years by taking 15 credits each semester.  Graduating in four years means incurring less debt.

Through IU's annual debt letter, our financial aid offices help our students make informed decisions about borrowing. Since 2012, when students started receiving the annual letter, student loan debt has decreased by 22 percent. 

Each year our financial wellness programs reach students through one-on-one appointments, virtual coursework and classroom presentations, both to educate students and to address financial barriers that could make it harder to graduate. Our nationally recognized programs continue to innovate and lead among higher education institutions through the IU-led Higher Education Financial Wellness Alliance, which recently secured CashCourse. This virtual self-guided coursework is used to help students at colleges and universities in all 50 states, including IU.

We keep students at the center when our faculty and staff show this kind of dedication to connecting with our students on financial wellness and helping them stay on track to graduate on time from our campuses.

Pamela Whitten

Indiana University

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