By Jill Johnson, Newberry College
When it comes to rankings, we don’t usually celebrate a last-place finish on the list. One notable exception is LendEDU’s Student Loan Debt Report, which reported that Newberry College students graduated with less loan debt than any other four-year college or university in South Carolina.
According to the report, Newberry College graduates had an average student loan debt of $18,566, the lowest average debt per borrower among South Carolina’s public or private four-year institutions, and well below the state’s overall average debt per borrower of $29,490.
“We are dedicated to keeping the cost of attending Newberry College competitive and affordable for all students and their families,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Hugo A. “Hap” Pearce. “This new report helps demonstrate the effectiveness of our efforts.”
Newberry College graduates also fared exceptionally well among their peers nationwide. Newberry ranked #35 for overall lowest average debt per borrower among all private colleges and universities.
“We are committed to doing everything possible to make Newberry College a “best value” investment for our students and their families,” said Newberry College president Maurice W. Scherrens. “Part of our strategy has been to limit price increases and provide a generous financial aid package to help limit indebtedness. After graduation, our Loan Repayment Promise helps position our graduates for their chosen careers or further education.”
Focusing on Access and Affordability
Students and their families understand that a college education remains the most reliable path to a professional career and higher lifetime income. Although students consider a variety of unique factors in their college choice, the cost of attendance and their ability to pay are significant factors influencing their decision.
With a focus on providing access and affordability, Newberry College has sought to keep tuition and housing increases as low as possible. In a comparison of 20 South Carolina public and private colleges and universities, no institution had a lower percentage price increase over the past three years than Newberry College. [Source: IPEDS]
The price of attending Newberry College has risen 6.1 percent over the past three years, while the 20-school average price increase was 10.9 percent. Among that same group of 20 schools, Newberry College also had the lowest increase in tuition, fees, room and board over the past five years. For the 2017/2018 academic year ahead, the College’s increase on tuition, fees, room and board was just 1.69 percent.
Providing the Best Value
A generous financial aid package, which includes state and federal grants and loans and Institutional scholarship, helps families manage college costs. Last year, Newberry awarded $14 million in institutional scholarships, which factor in the family’s level of financial need and the student’s academic and/or co-curricular strengths.
“More than 95 percent of our students received some form of financial assistance last year,” said Joel Vander Horst, Dean of Enrollment Management. “Institutional scholarships combined with outside aid sources make us highly competitive, even among state-subsidized schools.”
Gauging Return on Investment
Newberry continually seeks proactive, innovative ways to ensure that qualified students from every socioeconomic walk of life have access to a Newberry College education. After three years offering the Tuition Promise, which froze tuition at the student’s incoming year, Newberry again raised the bar on value and affordability.
In 2015, Newberry College launched Loan Repayment Promise, which pledges if a student’s annual income is less than $40,000 after they graduate from Newberry, the College will help them repay their student loans until they reach that salary threshold. Newberry was the first in South Carolina to launch this type of program for students.
“Like any student, I dreamed of getting a college education, but I worried the expensive,” said Olivia Fraunfelter, who graduated in 2017 with a major in Physical Education/Sport Management. “Because Newberry helped keep my costs lower, I’ve been able to receive an affordable education and can more easily start making a better future for myself after graduation.”
As another value indicator, Newberry College moved into the top 20 in the U.S. News & World Report 2017 Best Colleges report, taking its place among the most respected colleges in the Southeast. Newberry earned rankings in three categories: Best Regional Colleges in the South (#16), Best Value for Regional Colleges in the South (#3), and Best Regional Colleges in the South for Veterans (#8).
Newberry also is on track to welcome approximately 450 incoming students for the fall 2017 semester, surpassing its previous high-water mark of 381 incoming students set in fall 2016.
“Rankings and enrollment growth, along with our Loan Repayment Promise, reassure students and their families that a private college education at Newberry is a wise investment,” VanderHorst said.