Students who attended four universities in the Big Country – Abilene Christian, McMurry, Hardin-Simmons and Howard Payne -- graduated with a large debt. That's according to a list from the Institute for College Access and Success.
During the 2009-2010 school year, students at:
*- Abilene Christian University graduated with an average debt of $38,634. ACU topped the entire list of 38 schools in Texas,
*- Hardin-Simmons University graduated $37,383 in debt,
*- McMurry University graduated $33,252 in debt, and
*- Howard Payne University graduated with an average debt of $30,690,
Representatives from ACU, McMurry and Hardin-Simmons offered assurances that they have programs to help students save money and graduate with as little debt as possible.
According to ACU officials, a block tuition program – set to begin this fall -- will help students save.
"It can reduce a student's debt load by over $17,000 for a four-year degree," said Kevin Campbell, ACU's senior enrollment officer.
More scholarships are also being offered, Campbell said.
"We have been increasing our scholarships significantly in the last several years, and so scholarships are actually being targets towards students who have the greatest financial need again to try to reduce the student debt loads," Campbell said.
On top of freezing tuition rates for students throughout their college careers, Hardin Simmons officials said advises students on private loans.
"We felt it as important as part of a student loan package if students need a private loan we want them to go through some type of entrance counseling," said Shane Davidson, HSU's Vice President of Enrollment.
At McMurry, officials said offering dual credit courses, Advanced Placement examinations and testing out for credits has helped students graduate faster.
In addition, McMurry officials said the number of students graduating in three years has increased from 7 percent to more than 21 percent.
Efforts to get comments from Howard Payne University were unsuccessful.
One interesting fact: Three prominent private Texas universities weren’t included on this list: Trinity, Austin College and Baylor.