UTAH (ABC4) – Amid the announcement by President Biden of the cancellation of some student debt for millions of Americans, a study published by WalletHub unveiled that Utah holds the least amount of student debt nationwide.
The study evaluated Student-Loan Indebtedness and Grant & Student Work Opportunities in all 50 states and the District of Colombia. The two evaluations considered average student debt and the unemployment rate among the population among nine other relevant metrics. Overall, Utah is 51 in Student-Loan Indebtedness and simultaneously ranked below average in Grant & Student Work at 31. Utah scored 14.64 in the amount of student debt, finishing well below the District of Columbia, which ranked second-to-last at 50.
Utah has two times less average student debt compared to New Hampshire, which ranked top in the nation. Additionally, the Beehive State has two times less the proportion of students with debt compared to South Dakota which boasts the highest proportion, according to the study.
“I do not know how many students and parents think about the Return of Investment in higher education,” commented Jeff Dew, an Associate Professor at Brigham Young University. “Higher education can indeed be an exceptionally important investment in oneself and one’s future. But many students end up with tens of thousands of dollars of debt and a degree that does not translate into a higher income.”
As another school year begins for thousands of students across Utah, Dew recommended being mindful about the investment students make in themselves. By speaking to professionals in the fields they are interested in, students can find the best pathway into the field as some pathways may not involve a standard “four-year” degree. Dew also recommended trying out internships to ensure they enjoy the work in their field so they don’t waste time and money learning tools in a classroom they won’t use.
Additionally, Dew had four tips for students looking to minimize the amount of debt they take out for higher education.
“First, research the different institutions in which you are interested so that you can get the education you need while paying the least for it,” suggested Dew. “Second, maintain at least a part-time job. Third, if you do take out a student loan, do not spend any of it on things unrelated to your education. Fourth, use a spending plan or budget.”
There are always alternatives to student loans as well. As suggested by Jeff Dew and supported by Robert Murphy, the Assistant Chair of the Department of Economics at Boston College, a part-time job is always an option, but there are other alternatives as well.
“Students aiming to minimize the debt they take on for education should look into all scholarships and grants that they may be eligible for,” said Murphy.