President Haas urges freshmen to attend full time

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As a new academic year gets underway at area colleges and universities, an examination of student loan data shows Grand Valley State University students who completed their degrees in four years accrued debt below the national average  — and that nearly 40 percent had no debt at all.

The internal study shows that of students who began at Grand Valley as freshmen in fall 2008 and graduated four years later, 37 percent had no debt. The median debt for that group was $13,569. Nearly 900 Grand Valley students received the Grand Finish grant of $1,000, which rewards students in their senior year for staying on a four-year path to graduation. Students who took five or six years to complete their degrees incurred greater expense and took on more debt.

President Thomas J. Haas said access and affordability are cornerstones to the university’s educational mission. “We work to keep quality up while holding tuition down for our students,” Haas said. “We have put programs in place to speed the path to graduation and help our alumni to begin their careers. It’s gratifying to see these programs working so well.”

For the 2011-2012 year, nearly 95 percent of Grand Valley students received some type of assistance — a scholarship, grant or loan. Last year, the average gift aid — money that does not need to be paid back by the student — reduced the cost of attendance for students receiving that aid by more than $3,000 each. The university awarded more than $31 million in gift aid in 2011-12. Grand Valley’s Career Services office reports that of recent graduates 88 percent are working or attending graduate school, and that of those employed 84 percent are pursuing their careers in Michigan. 

“We want parents and students to know what we know — that getting a degree in four years is the most cost-effective thing a student can do,” Haas said.  “We’re committed to making the path to graduation smoother at Grand Valley.” 

 For more on Grand Valley’s efficiencies, see the Accountability Report, http://www.gvsu.edu/accountability.