Graduates of Top US Universities Have Less Debt than Public University Graduates

June 22, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. elite (adj.)
[ih-leet, ey-leet] – the very best or having the highest quality
Example: Harvard is an elite university.

2. debt (n.) [det] – an amount of money borrowed from someone that must be paid or returned
Example: Most US citizens are having difficulty paying their large credit card debts.

3. owe (v.) [oh] – to have a responsibility to pay money to someone (person, bank, or other business)
Example: Each year, I pay the income tax that I owe to the government.

4. establish (v.) [ih-stab-lish] – to set up or to create something that will last permanently
Example: There are plans to establish a new law that will help students pay their tuition fees.

5. loan (n.) [lohn] – money lent to somebody for an agreed period of time
Example: The student loan given by the university will pay for his college tuition, which he must pay back after graduation.

Read the text below.
A recent Reuters study found that in the US, graduates from lower cost public universities leave school with more student debt than graduates from expensive, elite universities.

The research collected data on the average student debt of graduates in the year 2011 from 25 of the top public and private universities. The data showed that in Ivy League universities, the most expensive top universities in the US, at least 50% of students graduated without debts.

In Princeton University, which has an estimated tuition of $54,780, graduates owed only an average of $5,000 to the school. In contrast, graduates of the University of Michigan had an average debt of $27,000, even though their tuition was about half the cost of Princeton’s.

The differences in student debt may be because Ivy League schools have established generous financial aid policies the past few years. Harvard, Stanford, and Berkeley have also decided to limit their fees depending on each student’s family income.

For example, in Harvard, students pay nothing to the school if their family income is less than $65,000 per year. Those with families earning less than $150,000 yearly, on the other hand, must pay less than 10% of the total tuition fee.

Meanwhile, 74 US universities have decided to stop offering loans in their financial help packages, so graduates will not have difficulty paying back the debt.  Most public universities, however, cannot afford to do this because they depend on tuition payments to survive.

Student debt in the US currently totals over $1 trillion.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         What benefit does a school gain in helping students financially or in giving some students free tuition?  
·         Do you believe only expensive schools give high quality education? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you believe that education is a good investment? What makes you think so?
How can one prepare for the costs of a university education? Suggest good ways of lessening the burden of paying for these.


June 22, 2012