StateImpact’s Delving Behind The Student Debt Numbers For Dartmouth And UNH

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According to one report, students attending UNH-Durham might find themselves taking on more debt than their peers at Dartmouth. But why?

Yesterday, we posted a piece comparing the student debt load of New Hampshire residents to the rest of the country.  (You can read it here.)  But one set of figures reported by the Project on Student Debt–and reported by the Union-Leader continues to stand out:

  • Average Class of 2010 student debt nationally:  $25,250
  • Average Class of 2010 student debt in New Hampshire:  $31,048
  • Average Class of 2010 student debt for UNH-Durham: $32,320
  • Average Class of 2010 student debt for Dartmouth College: $18,700

How in the world was it possible for an average student in 2010 to go to an Ivy League institution and take on 42 percent less debt than his or her state school peers?  And how is it that the average student graduating Dartmouth last year even managed to leave with less student debt than the average American student?

Curiouser still, the Union-Leader also reported that while 76 percent of the University of New Hampshire-Durham’s Class of 2010 took out student loans, only about half of Dartmouth’s students took on student debt.  Of course, it would be easy to think that that could simply be a difference in the types of students who attend these schools.  Maybe Dartmouth has many more students coming from wealthier families who can pay their tab upfront?

Maybe…but half of all Dartmouth students have families paying their way?  That’s a lot of wealth, even for an elite school.

It seems that something else is going on with these figures.

So we’ve got some calls out to Dartmouth and the University of New Hampshire to try to get to the factors behind the numbers.  And we’ll be sure to share what I find out.


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