Dordt College News

Dordt College alumni lead the nation in student loan repayment

August 31, 2010

In a new United States Department of Education analysis of more than 8,000 colleges and trade schools, Dordt College students lead the nation in consistently honoring their commitments to pay off federal student loans.

In a U.S. News & World Report analysis of the data, Dordt College was tied for tops in the nation among colleges with at least 100 borrowers. And while the DOE analysis lists Dordt students’ repayment rate at 92 percent, that doesn’t reflect the real rate because some loans don’t need to be repaid immediately. For example, when students are in graduate school their loans can be deferred.

In fact, according to Dordt College Director of Financial Aid Mike Epema, Dordt’s student loan default rate has been incredibly low for years, hovering between 0.3 and 0.7 percent in recent years.

“When I go to financial aid conferences and some of my colleagues find out our default rate is less than one percent, they do not believe me. They think it’s impossible for a private college that costs almost $30,000 a year to have that default rate. But we do.”

Dordt College President Carl E. Zylstra says he believes there are several reasons Dordt grads do so well at repaying their loans: “We coach our students in borrowing wisely, we offer high quality education that prepares students for occupations where they will have the ability to pay back the loans, and we inculcate values that include placing a high priority on keeping your commitments.”

Epema, who often explains Dordt’s low default rate with a smile and a quip – “We have the best clientele in the world!” – also noted that many Dordt students come from families who have a long tradition of paying for their children’s schooling at all levels. “These families know how to sacrifice for Christian education,” he said. “We are, for the most part, a college of students with middle-income families who take their financial responsibilities seriously.”

In noting that Northwestern College of Orange City has a repayment rate of 88%, also very high, a U.S. News & World reporter asked Dordt College, “Is there something in the water in northwest Iowa?”

Dordt has recently been recognized in other areas as well.

Dordt College was ranked third among 95 schools in the 12-state Midwest region on U.S. News and World Report’s 2011 America’s Best Regional Colleges rankings. Dordt was also one of only two colleges recognized for “A Strong Commitment to Teaching” by USN&WR and was also named on their top 10 list of “A-plus Schools for B Students,” a category that recognizes high-achieving colleges where “nonsuperstars” can thrive and succeed. USN&WR compared academic quality to the cost of tuition at Dordt and for four consecutive years has named it on their “Great Schools, Great Prices” list.

To learn more about Dordt College, visit or call 1-800-343-6738.

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