ST. LOUIS — As the average student loan debt for college graduates across the country continues to climb, local online, nonprofit university WGU Missouri is proving that it’s possible to graduate with less debt. In 2018, the average federal student loan debt for graduating students at WGU Missouri and its parent university, Western Governors University, dropped to $15,354, less than half the national average. This is a significant drop from the previous year’s average of $16,132 per student, and a decrease of more than 27 percent over the past five years.
The downward trend is due, in large part, to WGU Missouri’s Responsible Borrowing Initiative, a student education program aimed at ensuring that students borrow only what they need. Since the university implemented the initiative in 2012, the average borrowing per student per year has decreased by 41 percent. The university also offers affordable, flat-rate tuition of about $3,500 per six-month term, which, coupled with a competency-based education model that allows students to move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn, makes it possible for students to borrow less.
“WGU prides itself on the support that we give our students regarding finances and student loans,” said Dr. Angie Besendorfer, Chancellor of WGU Missouri. “We really encourage our students to borrow responsibly by providing them with the information they need to make smart, informed decisions about their student loans. This is just one of the many ways WGU is helping to combat the national college debt problem.”
WGU Missouri students consist mainly of working adults, many of whom are considered to be underserved. On average, it takes less than three years for WGU Missouri students to complete a bachelor’s degree, often while working full time and raising families. Graduates also report an average increase in salary of $19,100 within four years of graduation, compared to an average of $6,700 nationally.
For more information about WGU Missouri and its Responsible Borrowing Initiative, visit missouri.wgu.edu.