William Fossey just published this piece about the performance of Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana.
Many decades ago I attended the neighboring university, Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana. Louisiana Tech is primarily a white student school with 71% of the student population being white and 14% black. Grambling State University on the other hand is 91% black and 1% white.
Both schools are public universities and the two schools are only about 6 miles apart but worlds apart in many ways, including student loan debt and performance.
Fossey noted “On average, Grambling graduates leave school with more debt than Harvard or Yale graduates. In fact, Grambling students graduate with a higher debt load than people graduating from more than 1,000 other colleges.”
According to the data available on CollegeScorecard.gov the two schools hardly represent each other in many ways that are important to students and future student loan debtors. Louisiana Tech University and Grambling State University might as well be 3,000 miles apart, not six.
|Louisiana Tech University||Grambling State University|
|Average Annual Cost||$9,514||$14,656|
|Salary After Attending||$40,700||$28,400|
|Student Paying Down Their Debt|
(Average is 46%)
|Average Federal Student Loan Debt|
(Does not count private student loans)
|Average Federal Loan Payment|
It’s amazing what a difference just six mile can make in the future of a bright student. At Louisiana Tech University more student graduate, making more money, and leave school with lower federal student loan payments. Grambling on the other hand appears to setup more students to fail with lower average income, lower graduation rates, and higher costs of attendance even for families of lower incomes. Louisiana Tech University costs are on the left in the chart below.
And when you factor all of this in with the 2015 average student debt load at Grambling of $51,887. From the U.S. News data it would appear this higher figure would include all types of federal and private student loan debt, not just federal as the College Scorecard does. But according to the same U.S. News data, room and board is cheaper at the higher performing Louisiana Tech University, $6702 versus $8,638 for Grambling in the 2015-16 school year.
Ultimately this is less about white versus black or race of any kind than it is about all students and families doing their homework to make sure the school they elect to attend will give them the least debt and biggest bang for the buck.
Using the ProPublica Debt by Degrees you can get a good snapshot of the individual school performance.
Bottom Line: Just be a smart shopper when it comes to the school and debt and understand that just six miles can make the world of difference for the rest of your financial life.