Kansas Student Loans
Kansas offers great opportunity for students seeking to enroll at any one of its many colleges, universities, and technical schools.
In addition to excellent degree programs, Kansas highlights include 24 state parks, the Hutchinson State Fair, and a natural wonder known as the “Chalk Pyramids,” a series of 70-feet tall fossil-rich rock formations, complete with buttes and arches that are fun to walk through.
There are over 50 institutions of higher learning in Kansas, spanning almost as many cities. The fact that colleges are not concentrated in a cluster of cities means that students have an opportunity to study in almost any area of this state. That being said, the capital of Topeka and main cities like Wichita and Kansas City (and surrounding cities) attract many students. A sample of Kansas schools located in these main cities include:
- Washburn University in Topeka
- Ottawa University in Overland Park
- Donnelly College in Kansas City
- Friends University in Wichita
- Wichita State University
There are countless reasons why students choose one school over another, but the school’s admission rate is surely an important factor when creating a list of schools to consider. According to U.S. News, the following schools are among those with the lowest and highest rates of acceptance:
- Sterling College: With a 44.05% acceptance rate, this college is one of the hardest to get into statewide.
- Central Christian College: This college only admits about one in two applicants, making it a modest reach school for interested students.
- Wichita State University: Ideal for students who want more of a city experience, and the generous acceptance rate of 95.91% means it can serve as a “safety school” for many applicants.
- Ottawa University: Another good “safety school” option for students inside and outside of Kansas, this university accepts 98.86% of applicants.
- Tabor College: Located in Hillsboro, with an admission rate of 73.5%, this school admits about three out of every four applicants.
Getting into college is always a competitive process, and for this reason, each offer of admission is an achievement
A main factor of consideration is also the college’s ranking, which is based on numerous criteria, including the acceptance rate, quality of the academics, and employability rates of graduates. According to 2015 University Web Ranking, the following are the top five colleges and universities in the state:
- University of Kansas (Lawrence)
- Kansas State University (Manhattan)
- Wichita State University
- Emporia State University
- Fort Hays State University
As the University of Kansas (Lawrence) is top ranking and will be a likely draw for many students, providing further detail should be helpful to students who are thinking about pursuing a degree in Kansas. According to U.S. News, the university was founded in 1866, and now appreciates 1,000 acres of campus. The total undergraduate student body is 19,217, all of whom benefit from the school’s high ranking. Per the 2015 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, University of Kansas (Lawrence) ranked 106th. The university also provides good value for in-state residents; in the 2014-15 fall and spring academic year, tuition was $10,448. As the university is public, out-of-state residents are subject to higher tuition and fees, which amounted to $25,731 in 2014-15.
Using loans to pay for college has become a reality for most students. According to U.S. News, the Institute for College Access and Success found that 69% of seniors in the 2013 class graduated with an average of $28,400 in student loan debt, which was a 2% increase from 2012. The geographical location of the students was a contributing factor. Students of some states had an average debt of $18,656, well below the average, while others exceeded $30,000. From the college perspective, graduating student loan debt ranged from a low of $2,500 to a high of $71,000. Regarding the low end of the debt scale, smaller amounts of student loan debt may owe to a large percentage of in-state students attending their state’s colleges, universities, and technical colleges. As a rule of thumb, students will usually find the best value in their state’s public higher education system compared to private colleges.
Today, student loans are a major source of college funding. The two main sources of loans are the federal government and private banks. It is important to note that most states do not offer a loan program to students. Kansas does not have a special loan system for college students. To be considered for aid, all prospective college students are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Based on information reported in the FAFSA, the admitting college will create a financial aid package for eligible students. It is important for students concerned about paying for college to understand that financial aid packages are not only for tuition. Each school determines the cost of attendance for its students based on factors like state residency status and number of credit hours. As needed, schools will state the maximum amount a student may borrow from federal sources to fund their education.
There are two federal lending programs, the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program and the Federal Perkins Loan Program. The latter program is reserved for those students who demonstrate exceptional financial need on the FAFSA, as determined by the admitting school. In general, these federal loan programs have a lower interest rate and more flexible repayment options compared to private student loans.
In some cases, a student may need to borrow a private loan. For instance, a student attending a costly private college, or subject to the higher out-of-state tuition rate at a public college, may have a gap in aid that can only be covered by borrowing privately. It is important to understand that borrowing a private student loan is a consumer issue. A school will usually provide students with a list of reputable lenders that have a history of lending to the school’s students. It will be up the student, however, to review the loan terms and weigh the pros and cons of each.