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Community college students borrow less but struggle to repay loans

Borrowers who attended community colleges in New York graduated with much less debt than their counterparts at four-year colleges. Nonetheless, at all but one community college, at least half of borrowers were not making progress on paying down their loans within three years of beginning their repayment.

Seven-year repayment rates were better. The majority of borrowers at all but two community colleges were paying down their principal debt seven years after the leaving the colleges.

Community colleges also did well when comparing earnings to debt. In most cases, borrowers had to spend less than 5 percent of their earnings on the debt they accumulated at community colleges. Erie Community College’s rate of 3.3 percent was the lowest among colleges and universities in Western New York.

Community colleges, however, had high proportions of former students who didn’t earn at least $25,000, an amount the federal government uses as a threshold number because it corresponds to the median wage of workers ages 25 to 34 who have only a high-school degree.

All community colleges, except one — the Fashion Institute of Technology — had students from families with median incomes of $37,000 or less.

Student loan debt by the numbers: A school-by-school breakdown

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