Sunday, March 4, 2012

Kalamazoo College, Worth its Weight in Loans

Kalamazoo College, Worth its Weight in Loans

With the United States in a recession it seems the cost of a college education is becoming harder to obtain. However, at the same time, the demand for a college education is higher than ever. In order to compete in the job market the next generation of workers needs a college degree or professional training in order to be competitive. Yet, with the national unemployment rate at 8.3% and Michigan’s unemployment rate at 9.3% it seems that college students are going to have to do more than obtain an undergraduate degree. It also means for some that finances are going to play a role in the school they attend, as students try to take out the least amount of loans as possible. For some it has them questioning if the cost of a degree is outweighed by the future benefits. A recent study of juniors and seniors at Kalamazoo College is shedding an optimistic light on the subject.

Kalamazoo College, also known as K or K College, is known for being an expensive private liberal arts college. At a price tag of $43, 899 per year, according to the Kalamazoo College website, K students without a scholarship would pay $175,596 for four years. This would seem to many to be a steep price to pay, but K prides itself on doing more in four years, so their students can do more in a lifetime. With a built in study abroad component, internships/externships with alumni, an open curriculum, and so much more, K provides its students with the tools to succeed in life after K. Graduates are known for getting into the best graduate/professional programs and obtaining employment upon graduation. With a recent study from two current K students, titled “What’s Next After “K”?”, current and perspective students can be relieved to find that the K experience is worth the cost.

According to The Project on Student Debt, an initiative of the Institute for College Access & Success, the average amount of debt carried by graduates in the state of Michigan is $25,675. This does not appear to be the case for the 37 K juniors and seniors surveyed, whose average was $9, 621. Interestingly, 79% responded they would owe nothing after four years at K, leaving a mere 21% with debt once they graduate. This may be in part due to the socioeconomic status of the family or due to the fact that K is gracious when it comes to rewarding its students with scholarships. Kalamazoo College scholarships are held by 83% of the survey respondents and 68% responded yes to receiving merit aid. On average each student receives $8,028 worth of scholarship per quarter. The generosity of alumni and other donors makes it possible for students to study at K, as well as continue their education after graduation.

Kalamazoo College has the reputation of producing well-rounded graduates, who are prepared to either enter the job market or continue their education at the top graduate programs in the country. Students planning to further their education were 68%, with 38% planning to go straight to graduate school. Another 27% plan to start working immediately after graduation, with another 16% beginning to look for employment. Even with the steep cost of Kalamazoo, only 3% strongly agreed that student debt had influenced their decisions about graduate school. The 42% who strongly disagreed that student debt was a major decision may be among those who are not carrying student loans. Regardless, Kalamazoo provides its students with the programs needed to prepare them for life after K. With 65% strongly agreeing that graduate or professional school is important, it gives current and perspective student’s peace of mind to know that K makes sure you have the tools to succeed.

Kalamazoo like many colleges strives to give its students the best. With an 84% satisfaction rate from students, it’s no wonder that K continues to be one of the leading liberal arts colleges. Even with these trying economic times, the cost of a college education is outweighed by the long run benefits of a college experience. At Kalamazoo the saying really is true, an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

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