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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The percentage of Idaho students attending public four-year universities who are defaulting on their student loans is increasing, federal officials say.
But the U.S. Department of Education also says Idaho's overall rate of 13.1 percent is below the national average of 13.7 percent. The national rate has been declining while the Idaho rate is on the rise.
"Our economy hasn't always been the best over the last few years," Dan Davenport, student financial aid director at the University of Idaho, told the Idaho Statesman (http://bit.ly/1CAENPz ) in a story on Monday.
That combined with rising college costs, low Idaho wages and students borrowing too much could be contributing to the increase in default rates in Idaho, officials said.
The federal report released last week said Idaho State University is above the national average with a default rate of 15 percent. Boise State University is at 11.4 percent, and the University of Idaho is at 8.3 percent.
"We do talk to students about smart borrowing choices," said Jim Anderson, Boise State's associate vice president for enrollment services. "We talk to them about their ability to reduce loans."
Default rates at Idaho community colleges are worse, with the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls and North Idaho College in Coeur d'Alene both exceeding 20 percent.
The Institute of College Access and Success says the average total debt for those graduating in 2012 was $27,369 at Boise State University, $26,809 at the University of Idaho, and $26,602 at Idaho State University.
Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston had a default rate of 11.3 percent, down 6 percent from 2010. School officials attributed the reduction to a nonprofit group called American Student Assistance that helps students determine their payments based on their income.
Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com
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