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State University System Student Debt Continuing to Decline

TALLAHASSEE – While the national conversation surrounding a large amount of student debt continues to make headlines, Florida’s 12 public universities are bucking the trend.  Within the State University System, 11,000 fewer students took out loans in 2018-19 as compared to 2017-18, while two-thirds of students did not take out any loans.  Additionally, the student loan default rate for the System dropped 6 percent from 2012 to 2.7 percent, compared to the national average of 6.8 percent.

“The Governor, legislative leaders, and the Board of Governors have continued to prioritize low tuition and fee costs to the students, even as they rise across the country,” said Syd Kitson, chair of the Board of Governors. “The State University System is also focused on decreasing the cost of textbooks, using online resources when possible, and incentivizing increased financial aid through the cost-to-the-student metric in the Board’s performance funding model.”

Florida has held tuition and fees flat since 2014-2015 as compared to a 14 percent increase nationally, making Florida the second lowest state in the country for tuition and fees for 4-year public institutions.   Due to the emphasis on affordability, the average cost-to-the-student for a four-year degree in the State University System is $9,450, including financial aid, representing a 31 percent year-over-year decrease.

Increased financial aid, such as Bright Futures and the Florida Student Assistance Grant, summer funding of Pell Grants, an increase in graduation rates, and consistent low tuition have resulted in fewer students taking out loans and lower loan default rates.

“I am very pleased that the State University System is continuing to see a downward trajectory on student loans and student debt,” said Marshall Criser, III, Chancellor of the State University System.  “This is just one of the reasons why Florida has been named the top state in higher education in the country by U.S. News and World Report three years in a row.”


Facts about the State University System of Florida and the Board of Governors

The State University System of Florida is a constitutional body led by the 17-member Board of Governors. The system has 12 universities and more than 420,000 students, making it the second-largest public university system in the nation. Responsibilities include defining the distinctive mission of each institution and managing the system’s coordination and operation. The Board appoints a Chancellor who serves as the system’s chief executive. For more information, visit