This fall, all American universities including Illinois State got back their report cards from the federal government. If Illinois State University were an elementary school student, it certainly wouldn’t have been grounded by its parents. It may have even received an ice cream cone based on the numbers highlighted in the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard.
“This is a compelling accounting of what makes Illinois State special,” said Provost Janet Krejci. “Some of the things that stand out to me are our graduation rates, our low student indebtedness relative to some of the best universities in the nation, and certainly the success of our graduates. Our graduation rate puts us in the top 10 percent of all institutions across the country, and that’s something of which we’re very proud.”
Here are some of the details:
• The College Scorecard highlighted Illinois State’s 71 percent graduation rate and 82 percent freshmen retention rate, which are well above the national averages of 44 percent and 67 percent, respectively.
• The scorecard showed that, 10 years after starting school, Illinois State alumni earn salaries that are $10,000 above the national average.
• It was also noted that Illinois State graduates begin repaying their college debt 25 percent faster than the national average.
The College Scorecard, a project promoted by President Barack Obama, is designed to provide parents and prospective students with key statistics on affordability and student outcomes for every college and university in the country.
The department released the data in September and packaged it into individual reports on each school that can be accessed through an online database. The scorecard website offers easy comparisons between institutions and types of institutions, within regions, and by other criteria.
“One of the things that I really like about the scorecard is that it’s an objective, third party source that really doesn’t have a dog in the hunt anywhere other than to help parents compare universities,” said Director of Admissions Jeff Mavros, M.S. ’06.
One data set that Illinois State officials point out that was in last year’s scorecard but the U.S. Department of Education did not include this year is the student loan default rate. Illinois State has a commendably low rate of 2.8 percent.
Administrators said that the very high rate at which Illinois State students repay their student loans means that students and parents are thoughtful about their investment, they are managing their finances well, and the students are being successful in their careers.
“We are among the best in the country as far as public four-year universities go for default rate,” said Financial Aid Director Jana Albrecht, MBA ’06. “We are four times better than the national average in terms of students’ ability to repay those loans that they take out. I think it is a great representation of our students’ success because they don’t overborrow at Illinois State.”
Mavros and Albrecht attributed the University’s solid showing to a variety of factors, one of which being that the University enrolls smart students who take their studies and their money management seriously. The University has a direct role, too, by educating students how to best manage their borrowing and preparing students well for their careers.
“Student success is really at the core of everything that we do,” Krejci said. “With an environment like this, it breeds success and it prepares our students well for the next step.”