Missouri State's Leadership on Student Loan Debt

The average student loan debt for Missouri State graduates is lower than state and national averages.

Fewer than 0.1% of the students who complete a degree at Missouri State default on their student loans.

Forty percent of Missouri State’s students leave the university without any student loan debt. The remaining 60 percent have an average federal student loan debt of $25,098. This is thousands less than state and national averages.

Moreover, default rates for Missouri State students are substantially lower than rates for their peers.

Missouri State’s leadership on student debt becomes even more pronounced when we look at the profile of the defaulting students. More than 98 percent of Missouri State’s defaulting students left the university without a degree (i.e., they “dropped out”). Almost without exception, students who earn a degree from Missouri State pay back their federal student loans. MSU’s success in helping students manage student loans can be attributed to several factors:

First, tuition at Missouri State is significantly lower than at other universities. This allows students to receive a high-quality education without having
to leverage their futures.

Sources: College Board and Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development

Second, the university provides financial education to help students avoid student loan pitfalls. MSU actively advises students before and after they take out loans and assists them in deciding on and applying for repayment plans. The university’s financial education efforts are supplemented with a peer financial counseling program called MSU Real L.I.F.E. (Literacy in Financial Education). This program matches student counselors with their peers for advice on financial decisions
and responsible borrowing.

Source: Information reported in January 2019 regarding graduates during the 2017-18 academic year using National Association of College and Employers (NACE) standards and protocols

Lastly, MSU students earn meaningful degrees and join the workforce upon graduation. MSU’s largest colleges are business and health. MSU also has the state’s largest teacher prep program and one of the nation’s largest non-land-grant agriculture schools. With these areas of emphasis, it is unsurprising that Missouri State’s positive career outcome rate is approximately 90 percent.

Source: Missouri State fall semester 2019 census enrollment figures

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, people with a bachelor’s degree earn $1 million more during the course of a 30-year career than people with only a high school diploma. They also have substantially lower risk of unemployment.

Note: Data are for people 25 and older. Earnings are for full-time wage and salary workers.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey

Note: Data are for people 25 and older.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey

When used responsibly, federal loans allow underprivileged students to borrow $25,000 as an investment that increases their lifetime earnings by more than $1 million. Missouri State University’s leadership on default rates and average student loan debt provides an example of how federal financial aid can improve peoples’ lives without contributing to the student-loan crisis.