Dordt College News

Dordt Alumni stand out for student loan repayment

August 16, 2010

According to a 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 first 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 percent, also among the nation's highest, a U.S. News & World Report reporter asked Dordt College, “Is there something in the water in northwest Iowa?”

For more information, you can read the U.S. News & World Report article and graph comparing loan repayment at

The complete analysis by the Department of Education can be found at

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