Hartford ranked no. 3 in student debt after graduation

In November, The Institute for College Access & Success, also known as TICAS, released a report that looked at the student loan debt for bachelor’s degree earners in the Class of 2013 and included a list of the 20 colleges with the highest student debt.

The University of Hartford was ranked number three on the list, with an average student debt of $45,778.

Though the results do look bad for the University, Chuck Colarulli, the Senior Associate Provost, wants students to know that the results of the study are highly inaccurate for several reasons, including the exclusion of nearly half of the country’s college in the report.

“TICAS got their data from Petersons,” Colarulli said, “but Petersons doesn’t require all of colleges in their materials… to report student debt. So only 57% of thousands of colleges report student debt. So when they say we’re in the top 20, it isn’t of a whole, it’s of this group who reports it. Why don’t those other colleges report it? Because they don’t want you do see their bad data.”

Colarulli points to Ithaca College and Hofstra University, two colleges in New York, as colleges that were not included. “They didn’t put their data in at all, so they’re not included in the survey,” Colarulli said.

TICAS also eliminates many individual students from the study, including students with PLUS loans (which are parent loans and not student loans), debt of transfer students, and the debt of students that do not graduate.

Colarulli does acknowledge that student debt is a very serious problem that has been getting worse. He points to the Recession of 2008 as one reason for the increase of debt.

“With the recession in 2008, a lot of people lost their jobs,” Colarulli said. “Then, when the jobs are slowly coming back, they’re lower paying jobs. So, more and more people can’t afford to pay for college, such the debt is getting larger.”

To combat this increase, the University has been putting much more effort to help students.

“In just the last five years, we’ve increased the amount of financial aid to students by fourteen million dollars,” Colarulli said.

“It matters – a couple thousand here, a couple thousand there, so that can help and allow a student to continue. Are we going to be able to solve all of student’s financial aid problems? No, it’s not financially viable, but we do the best we can.”

Students can look to the Office of Financial Aid for assistance in lowering their student debt.