Youngstown State University is touting some impressive numbers when it comes to student debt.
The university is reporting that its student loan default rate has been cut in half.
“It’s great for the university. It’s also great for students,” said Elaine Ruse, YSU director of financial aid and scholarships.
In 2011, 20.3 percent of YSU student loans were in default, but that number has fallen every year since, according to the university.
Preliminary results for fiscal year 2016, the year the latest data is available, shows the default rate at 11.8 percent, down nearly 9 percentage points.
Ruse says there are several initiatives put into place that have contributed to the reduced numbers. One of those is the university’s move toward a more selective admission process.
Ruse said better prepared incoming students are more likely to succeed in the classroom, graduate on time and obtain employment, which in turn allows them to pay back their loans.
Just three years ago, 54 percent of YSU students were taking out a loan. Now, the number has gone down to around 49 percent.
All student loans were over $60 million last year, and the total is below $57.5 million on Monday.
YSU has also increased funding for its scholarships and reconfigured how they are distributed, making more students eligible. YSU renews scholarships for students with a 3.0 GPA.
The university has been ranked by several online clearinghouses as one of the most affordable colleges and universities in Ohio.
Ruse said loan counseling early in high school also helps students understand student loan debt. YSU also works to educate students on financial aid awareness through recruitment amd on-campus events such as Financial Awareness Week.