Elon University doing its best to keep student debts low while national debts climbing

By Connor Cavanaugh

The overall cost of college is on the rise, but is your university doing anything about it?

“The philosophy for financial aid at Elon is to keep the overall cost as low as possible,” said Greg Zaiser, Vice President of admissions and financial planning at Elon University. “While Elon’s price reflects its status as a private university, it is still considerably less than some of our corss-applicant competition.”

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Courtesy of Mother Jones.

According to the Office of Financial Planning, the total cost to attend Elon for a year currently stands at $43,546, below the national average for private, four-year institutions.

Still, Elon graduates are leaving with an average of $23,000 in student loan debt, according to Zaiser. While this is below the national average of $29,400, some Elon students feel the university should be doing more to help its students.

Greg Zaiser talks about how Elon compares financially with other institutions. Photo by Connor Cavanaugh.

Greg Zaiser talks about how Elon compares financially with other institutions. Photo by Connor Cavanaugh.

“Elon isn’t doing a great job of allowing all qualified students to attend, regardless of their family’s income,” said Elon junior Corbin McConnell. “They base it (financial aid) off how much your family makes in a year, and there are lots of qualified students who don’t receive enough money to be able to attend Elon.”

Other students think the university should restructure its financial outlook to look more attractive to potential students.

“Lowering tuition would be ideal because there are already a lot of scholarships handed out, and a lower tuition would be more attractive to prospective students,” said junior Joe Thompson.

Despite students’ grievances, Elon is consistently named a “best value” institution by Kiplinger’s personal finance magazine and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges.

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Courtesy of Liz Goodwin.

From Kiplinger’s magazine: “Run your finger down the total cost column of our private university rankings and you’ll see price tags ranging from nearly $50,000 to more than $60,000. That is, until you reach Elon University, at number 22.”

It is no accident that Elon’s cost of $43,000 is substantially lower than most comparable universities.

“There is a very different model at Elon that is conservative out of necessity,” said Zaiser. “We take great care in planning with students who require loans, and that is why the default rate is lower than 2 percent here, while the national default rate is 13 percent.”

The low cost of the university, relative to the competition, has its benefits for those taking out student loans.

“Elon has made it easy for me to go here while taking out student loans,” said Kyle Stewart, and Elon junior. “This school was the most affordable school I was looking at, so it made sense to enroll here.”

For parents, taking out loans for their child’s education can be a daunting proposition if taken at face value.

“I think it is completely unreasonable for parents to not want to take out loans for their children’s college,” said Zaiser. “This is not a cost, it is an investment for the future.”

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