Florida Educator: School Tuition Isn't Necessarily What Drives Student Debt

Nov 15, 2012

Dr. Ed Moore compiled data showing student loan debt is usually worth it for those who get a degree.
Credit Gina Jordan

The average student loan debt for new graduates last year was more than $26 thousand.

A leading Florida educator compiled data showing most students end up owing less than $20 thousand for a degree that will give them greater earning power.

“People with college degrees make more money than people without college degrees in their lifetime,” Dr. Ed Moore says. “People with college degrees are more likely in this kind of economy to be employed.”

It is the cost of living that gets them much more so than the cost of tuition.

Moore is a member of the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Council, and he leads the not-for-profit Independent Colleges & Universities of Florida.

He says a lot of Florida students make it through school without borrowing any money, thanks to Bright Futures and other scholarships.

Moore also found that students who attend private institutions don’t owe much more than their peers in public universities.

The difference is less than $2000 a year on average.

“Students borrow relatively the same amounts of money regardless of the institution they go to,” Moore says, “mainly because it's the cost of living that gets them much more so than the cost of tuition."

Moore says the real problem is loan default rates, especially among students who never finish college.

The problem with defaulting on a student loan is that it can’t be discharged in bankruptcy.

Ultimately, Moore says public policy should be less driven by tuition rates and more focused on how a better educated workforce improves the future of Florida.