Approximately 91 percent of John Brown University graduates are paying down their debts after graduation, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard,
This means that 91 percent of graduates are able to start paying off their student loan debt within three years of graduating college. The University of Arkansas and Harding University have 86 percent and 91 percent respectively, and the national average for paying down debts is 68 percent.
“There are three main reasons for this,” said Kim Eldridge, Associate Vice President of JBU enrollment. “First, because JBU grads are in a job or their next degree within six months of graduation. Second, the income level compared to loan levels make it possible for students to pay off their loans quickly. Third, because we have students here who understand their responsibility in paying off their student loan debt and they know how to budget conservatively enough to do it,” he said.
The average annual salary earned by JBU graduates, according to the College Scorecard, is approximately $46,700, the national average is $33,400 after graduation. Financial aid is also a big factor in keeping students from being overwhelmed with debt.
“JBU gave out over $14 million in scholarships, not including anything from the outside, to try to keep the student loan borrowing average manageable. We also meet with the students who are graduating with student loan debt to talk with them about paying off their student loan debt in two years,” Eldridge said.
In a video provided by the financial aid department, several students reported paying off their loans within one or two years of graduation through a combination of being able to get a job right out of college and employing smart money habits in order to keep up on loan payments.
“I had about $25,000 in debt. It took about a year and a half to pay it all off,” JBU alumnus Billy Strnad said in the video. “When you get out, your first priority is
paying it off. Not buying a car, not buying a house.”
“Live frugally when they graduate, stay away from car loans, credit card debt or any other kind of debt and focus on their student loan debt. Take every cent left after covering the monthly living expenses and pay off the debt – don’t try to save initially, don’t worry about a retirement fund initially – take two years and pay off the student loans – then start the savings process,” Eldridge said when asked about how students should go about paying their debts off.
“We know that most of the students can do it if they focus on it, and we just want to emphasize how important it is to be debt free
as soon as possible,” Eldridge added.