UNI recognized as leader in reducing student debt

After a decade of helping students increase their financial literacy and lower their levels of student-loan debt, the University of Northern Iowa has been recognized as having one of the lowest student-indebtedness averages in the nation.

This recognition, combined with the announcement of substantial new scholarships for incoming students, is positioning UNI as one of the most accessible higher-education institutions in the region. 

In its fourth annual “Student Loan Debt by School by State” report, LendEDU, an online marketplace that helps consumers learn about and compare a wide range of financial products including student loans, included UNI in the top 10 percent of lowest student-debt figures in the country. LendEDU’s analysis included nearly 1,000 four-year public and private higher education institutions across the United States.

In 2018, UNI students graduated with the second-lowest debt in the state, marking more than a decade of decreasing student debt that highlight the institution’s continual efforts to provide an accessible, high-quality education. 

"We are committed to providing our students with the resources to educate themselves about student-loan debt, and to help them make the best financial choices about their education,” said UNI President Mark A. Nook. “Helping them develop this literacy early gives them a strong foundation to make wise financial decisions for the rest of their lives.”

In order to combat rising student debt, the university first introduced proactive financial literacy programming for students in the 2009-10 academic year, which included a requirement for loan counseling. These changes started a campus-wide trend of cutting debt, resulting in a 14 percent decrease in average loan debt over the past 10 years. In 2019, UNI’s average student indebtedness was $23,671, a decrease from the previous year of more than $800.

“To be recognized as a university with one of the lowest indebtedness levels in the nation is a credit to our students,” said Tim Bakula, financial aid director. “Over the past decade, our students have helped create a culture of consciousness around student loans. It’s not uncommon for students to leave their loan counseling sessions deciding to borrow substantially less than they initially planned.”