UW–Madison student loan default rate better than national average

Oct. 15, 2013

by Greg Bump

Student loan repayment rates at UW-Madison students are well above the national average, according to recently released federal data.

According to U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid figures, UW-Madison students had a 1.11 percent default rate on federal Perkins Loans in 2012. The rate was less than the national average of about 11 percent, and a drop from the 1.16 percent reported in June.

Federally funded, Perkins Loans are traditionally given to students with high financial need.

In addition, the two-year default rate for federal Stafford loans among UW students is just 1.1 percent for 2010-11, the most recent year for which the information is available. The national average default rate for Stafford loans is 10 percent.

UW–Madison Director of Student Financial Aid Susan Fischer, who reported the default rates in a memo to Chancellor Rebecca Blank, says the high repayment rate on loans reflects well on the borrowers.

“These incredibly low default rates are a real testimony to the integrity of UW-Madison graduates who have relied on loans for funding at least part of their education,” Fischer says in the memo. “The Office of Student Financial Aid does its very best to educate, inform and counsel students about their rights and responsibilities as borrowers.”

Fischer also singles out the student loan unit of the Bursar’s Office and the student loan servicing unit within the financial aid office for praise.

“The bursar’s staff handles exit interviews and billing for all loans except those in the federal Stafford Loan program. The student loan servicing staff in the Office of Student Financial Aid work hard with former students whose loans, other than Stafford or Direct, become delinquent,” Fischer says. “With one of the largest Perkins Loan revolving funds in the nation, keeping the Perkins funds in circulation is critical to providing reasonable borrowing options to our current and future students.”