Paying back

UW-La Crosse has found success in helping students pay back their student debt. The Financial Aid Office’s “It Make$ Cents!” program leads numerous workshops and programs to teach students about responsible borrowing, managing money and planning for their financial future.

UWL recognized for low student loan default rate

UW-La Crosse is among Wisconsin’s top colleges and universities for its students paying back their student debt.

The Student Loan Report ranked UWL No. 2 in the state among public universities for its students not defaulting on their loans over the past three years. Only 2 percent of UWL students defaulted on their loans — better than the 5 percent UW System average. Only UW-Madison had a smaller default rate, 1.5 percent.

Louise Janke, director of Financial Aid at UWL, attributes the better payback to a number of reasons. Her office leads numerous workshops and programs to teach students about responsible borrowing, managing money and planning for their financial future. “These are all topics for our It Make$ Cents! program that emphasizes them through peer mentoring,” she says. “Our average is positively influenced by these efforts.”

UW-La Crosse’s “It Make$ Cents!” program uses student peer mentors to emphasize smart financial planning. The program received the Wisconsin Financial Literacy Award from the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy in 2012 and 2013.

Janke says they encourage students and parents to borrow only what they need. “Encouraging them to save their summer earnings, apply for scholarships, and budget wisely are all part of our outreach efforts,” she explains.

They also target students who are in a delinquent status — the status before defaulting on a loan. “We reach out to those students individually and let them know we are here to help them,” Janke notes.

The Financial Aid Office is also working on establishing a Scholarship Resource Center to encourage and assist students in obtaining scholarships. “It is our goal to assist the students with reducing their student loan debt by replacing it with scholarships,” she says.

The university’s continued strong job placement rate — 98 percent of 2015-16 graduates found work within six months after graduation — help with payback too. Average starting salaries for UWL graduates is slightly over $38,000 per year. “These successful first-destination outcomes for our graduates enables them to pay back student loans,” notes Becky Vianden, director of the UWL Academic Advising Center and Career Services.

The loan default ranking uses federal data released by the Department of Education to analyze each school’s three-year default rate as of 2017. The report says the default rate is an extremely important factor to consider when choosing a school. A low default rate means university’s students are graduating and handling their student loan debt successfully — a testament to the affordability and quality of its programs.

Find the full report at: