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50-50 Highlights: Public Universities with Highest Percentage of PLUS Loans by State

piggy bank and calculator representing Public Universities with Highest Percentage of PLUS Loans by StateWith all the talk about student debt, it’s easy to miss the PLUS loan numbers. PLUS loans are federal loans taken out by parents on the student’s behalf. The really scary thing about PLUS loans is that parents can borrow up to the full amount of tuition. Furthermore, eligibility for PLUS loans isn’t based on ability to repay the loan but rather your credit history. Just think about it, even with a great credit history, a bank won’t loan you money for $250,000 house without some evidence that you can make the payments. The government will.

Until 1993, PLUS loans were limited to $4,000 a year with an aggregate limit of $20,000. Now parents can borrow the full amount minus any other financial aid. This is great for colleges that can assign any unmet need to a PLUS loan on a financial aid award.

PLUS Borrowers Owe More

You can see the difference in the average amount per borrower. According to Student Loan Hero, 27.9 million students borrowed Stafford Unsubsidized loans which averages to over $16,000 per borrower. The 3.4 million borrowers for Parent PLUS loans are averaging to almost $24,000.

The use of PLUS loans can vary pretty dramatically from school to school. At Boston College approximately six percent of undergraduates had PLUS loans taken out on their behalf while the number was 17% at NYU. At UC Berkeley, five percent of undergraduates had parents with PLUS loans, at the University of Connecticut, over 19%.

Why Are Parents Taking Out PLUS Loans?

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The high percentage of PLUS loans is something families should consider when looking for colleges. There are a variety of possible causes. It could mean that students are being “gapped,” not having their full financial need met. It might also mean that merit aid is limited or it’s difficult to maintain the GPA required to keep the scholarship. At public institutions, it may be out-of-students that account for most of the PLUS loans because the institution doesn’t provide them with any aid.

When you see a high percentage of PLUS loans, families should be extra diligent in using Net Price Calculators and check carefully on the possibilities and requirements of merit aid.

The following table lists the public 50-50 university in each state with the highest percentage of PLUS loans taken out on behalf of undergraduate students. An asterisk indicates that the state has only one public 50-50 school. As usual, the five-year graduation rate is used for public institutions.

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50-50 Public Universities with Highest Percentage of PLUS Loans by State

Link State % Full-time Under-grads with PLUS Loans Avg PLUS Loan per Recipient Full-time Under-grads 4/5 yr Grad-uation Rate % Under-grads Receiving Pell Grants Avg Net Price After Gift Aid (2015-2016)
The University of Alabama AL 11.5 $25,654 28,689 64 19 20,133
Arizona State University-Tempe AZ 17.9 $18,352 38,212 63 30 13,007
University of Arkansas* AR 8.3 $15,396 19,607 61 22 15,411
The California Maritime Academy CA 17.2 $15,072 1,038 56 31 14,606
Colorado State University-Fort Collins CO 16.2 $17,452 20,769 63 24 16,232
Eastern Connecticut State University CT 13.3 $11,149 4,267 53 32 17,014
University of Delaware* DE 9.6 $21,730 17,556 81 14 15,894
Florida State University FL 3.9 $12,280 29,185 78 31 16,506
University of Georgia GA 11.8 $11,614 25,906 81 22 14,956
University of Hawaii at Manoa* HI 15 $16,876 11,413 51 31 13,520
University of Idaho* ID 11.3 $11,938 7,400 51 35 14,787
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign IL 14.2 $16,628 31,989 83 21 16,683
Ball State University IN 13.1 $12,488 14,716 60 33 13,369
University of Iowa IA 15.3 $15,557 19,911 69 19 14,161
University of Kansas KS 18.1 $16,374 17,191 60 22 18,014
University of Kentucky* KY 10.4 $17,933 21,199 59 23 17,850
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College (LSU)* LA 7.3 $17,891 23,602 61 21 15,095
Maine Maritime Academy ME 19.1 $19,145 968 60 29 19,225
Salisbury University MD 21.9 $13,475 7,148 66 23 17,678
Massachusetts College of Art and Design MA 11.6 $16,167 1,546 70 27 21,695
Grand Valley State University MI 23.6 $9,619 19,376 60 33 15,904
University of Minnesota-Crookston MN 8.9 $8,556 1,281 52 20 13,396
Mississippi State University MS 11.2 $12,678 16,023 54 32 15,628
Missouri University of Science and Technology MO 15.9 $12,844 6,168 54 24 13,874
University of Nebraska NE 15.2 $13,648 18,817 62 21 16,462
Plymouth State University NH 17.5 $12,888 3,820 53 29 20,844
Rowan University NJ 13.9 $15,083 11,710 68 31 18,067
SUNY Oswego NY 21.7 $10,541 6,778 64 41 16,381
Appalachian State University NC 20 $10,185 15,351 69 29 10,167
North Dakota State University* ND 2.5 $9,750 10,676 50 20 14,581
Bowling Green State University OH 21.2 $13,777 13,214 50 31 17,313
Oklahoma State University OK 14.8 $16,522 18,347 58 27 13,951
University of Oregon OR 14.3 $24,136 18,630 68 24 15,355
Pennsylvania State University Main Campus PA 23.1 $20,181 39,520 83 15 25,055
University of Rhode Island* RI 17.4 $16,969 12,293 59 26 18,391
Citadel Military College of South Carolina SC 20.4 $21,614 2,461 68 23 18,465
University of South Dakota* SD 18.8 $7,088 4,961 52 24 16,502
University of Tennessee* TN 9 $16,870 20,569 65 29 20,780
Texas A & M University TX 10.8 $15,029 43,531 77 22 15,455
University of Utah* UT 1.7 $15,205 16,927 53 29 11,322
University of Vermont* VT 10.1 $22,543 9,991 73 16 17,816
Longwood University VA 27.3 $13,599 4,141 62 24 18,835
Washington State University WA 13.9 $15,679 21,384 62 35 17,815
West Virginia University* WV 21.4 $17,081 20,532 52 25 10,814
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater WI 8.6 $10,157 9,995 53 28 12,849
University of Wyoming* WY 3.6 $11,728 8,394 50 22 13,155

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