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DU student debt load said lower than U.S. average

By India Walton
On November 10, 2017

NEW ORLEANS (Nov. 9, 2016) – Dillard students graduate with an average debt of $36,000, which is $1,112 less than the national average, according to federal Department of Education statistics.

And the Office of Financial Aid tries to help students keep debt at a minimum by providing scholarship and offering scholarship databases as well as offering workshops on financial literacy.

Of the 1,272 students currently enrolled at Dillard, nearly three of four, or 74 percent, received institutional scholarships, and 35 percent, more than a third, received private scholarships in 2016-17.

Denise Spellman, financial aid director, said, “We post scholarship resources on the bulletin board by the Financial Aid Office, on social media and send emails of available scholarship opportunities as they become available.”

She added that students have access to a database through SALT with approximately $14 billion in scholarships.

Students are strongly encouraged to apply for as many scholarships as possible, as well as creating a UNCF profile; UNCF offers a wide variety of scholarship and internship possibilities.

David Page, vice president for Enrollment Management, said, “The impact of external scholarships for students, or at least those who seek them out, is great. If a student is concerned about his or loan debt, one way to minimize the debt is to seek out and apply for external scholarships.

He added getting external scholarships also helps the school and other students because the school can then provide its limited resources to other students.

Financial aid is a primary resource office that provides institutional scholarships and grants, the Student Aid for Financial Emergencies (SAFE) Award, endowed and non-endowed funding and information on external scholarships such as the MC Lyte Scholarship, Burger King Scholars Program, Dell Scholars Program, Koch Scholars Program and Xerox Minority Scholarships.

Scholarships are not the only way to minimize student debt. Page emphasized the importance of borrowing only what is needed.

“Students should borrow only as a means to support the need, not the want. There is a huge difference.” For example, he said, some students take out excessive loans to receive more money back on their refund checks, which is borrowing as a “want.”

The Office of Financial Aid conducts multiple workshops each semester, with the most recent one on Oct. 9. Tips included the following:

  • FAFSA applications became available Oct. 1.
  • Complete the FAFSA early.
  • Apply for as many scholarships as possible.
  • Create, complete and submit scholarship applications.
  • Become familiar with the satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.
  • Borrow responsibly.
  • Become knowledgeable about budgeting, credit scores, credit cards and personal finance.
  • Become familiar with the rules about repaying loans and available options.

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