Stay calm, carry on: Student loans and paying for college

Amid the noisy rush of starting college, incoming students are encountering a cautionary voice about their future. Once called the “safest debt” to have, student loans are now the subject of repeated exposés warning students of a disastrous road ahead for their personal finances and, national stability.

Northwestern grads have lower loan debt, more learning options

Evaluating the financial landscape at Northwestern, the Institutional Research Office calculated that UNW graduates left with an average $22,235 of loan debt last spring, nearly $10,000 less than the 2013 average for Minnesota institutions ($31,497) and almost $7,000 less than average loan debt for Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) ($29,075) and national private colleges ($29,400) .

Even with significantly lower debt averages at Northwestern and a competitively low tuition among peers, President Alan S. Cureton offered earnest response to student financial realities in his 2012 Op-ed.:

“We believe that addressing the student loan crisis begins on campus in an environment of transparency that focuses on reducing students’ uncertainty and confusion around taking out loans and gives them a road map to minimize their debt after graduation.”

Last month, students and local leaders spent time with financial voice Rachel Cruze in chapel and a special seminar, talking about loans, costs and realistic payment principles. UNW also offers a net price calculator tool for incoming freshman and transfer students to estimate their eligible aid ahead of time. Alternative education paths like PSEO, Early College for high school students; Degree in Three, online learning and Dual B.A./M.Div. Degree have fast tracked many students to graduation.

As Northwestern graduates enter the job market with degrees in hand, they will find local advantages, according to Georgetown University’s Failure to Launch study and Recovery state report. By 2020, 74% of Minnesota jobs will require postsecondary education, with a national average of 65% . And currently, Minneapolis–St. Paul is the metropolitan area with the highest employment rate for 21 to 30-year-olds at 80% .

Getting Practical

Northwestern alumna and scholarship expert Hannah Rivard ‘12, now a writer for The Defender Foundation, tackled college costs with unconventional zeal, but looking back she offered relatable insight to students just starting to encounter the cost question:

1. Fully investigate and acknowledge the cost and demands of repayment.

“One of the biggest issues I see with students is them simply not acknowledging the reality of how much school must cost. Only with that full knowledge and walking into the situation with their eyes wide open will students be able to be motivated to do what is necessary to reduce college debt.”

Get practical: Calculate your college costs, your current assets, and the gap you will need to fill with work, scholarships or loans using a worksheet like this. Calculating the numbers and seeing the totals will provide accountability and motivation.

2. Make a payment plan ahead of time to prevent financial stress on top of school stress.


“Because I worked so hard at funding college through scholarships, I had no problems with financial issues at Northwestern. I didn't feel pressured to have to work or even take a summer job because college was entirely paid for. This was an incredible blessing to me and one I would encourage students to think about—the advantage of having an attainable way to pay for college in place before they enter school will remove a great deal of stress when you're actually in school.”

Get practical: Write down a list of payment possibilities (jobs, scholarships, contests etc.) that you could act on tomorrow and take this list to your parents or a trusted mentor for accountability and guidance.

3. Balance your ideal with your resources and willingness to work.

“Think of your ideal situation — if money were no object, where would you go and what would you study? —and then make a concerted effort and plan to make that ideal situation happen. If that plan does not appear to be working or attainable after a certain amount of time, then you need to start taking a look at what you are willing to sacrifice so that you can balance the education you want with the affordability you need!”

Get practical: Make sure your payment plan is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound and then take steps as soon as possible to commit to it. Also, commit to evaluating each year/semester with parents or mentors to stay on track during college.

Get the details on scholarships, financial aid and cost at Northwestern.

Concerto-Aria Competition Winners Announced

The Department of Music is proud to announce Emily Baltzer and Anthony Potts as winners of the 2013-14 Concerto-Aria Competition. They were among the 12 contestants that participated in the annual event held Saturday, February 1, 2014, in Nazareth Chapel.

Emily Baltzer, piano, won the Concerto division with her performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, accompanied by Richard Lange, piano. Emily, a senior at University of Northwestern – St. Paul, studies piano with Dr. Richard Lange and is pursuing a Music Performance degree.

Anthony Potts, won the Aria division with his performance of Mozart’s “Bravo, signor padrone…Se vuol ballare” from Le nozze di Figaro. Tony, a junior at Northwestern, studies voice with Carol Eikum and is pursuing a Music Performance degree.

The results of the competition were announced during a reception that followed in the Blue Room. Lauren Anderson, clarinet, and Rachel Bauske, flute, were recognized with Honorable Mention for their Concerto performances, and Brandyn Tapio, tenor, received Honorable Mention for his Aria performance. Guest adjudicators for this event were Dr. Henry Charles Smith (international conductor, Grammy-winning and orchestral trombonist), Dr. Christopher Wallace (pianist, organist, chamber musician, church music director), and Dr. Wendy Zaro-Mullins (opera, musical and concert vocalist, associate professor at University of Minnesota).

Emily Baltzer and Anthony Potts will perform as featured guest artists with the University of Northwestern Orchestra, under the direction of David Kozamchak, on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. in Maranatha Hall, on the campus of University of Northwestern – St. Paul.

UNW receives top rankings from U.S. News, Twin Cities Business

With a new year and a new name, the University of Northwestern has taken its place at the top of recognized higher education lists.  Northwestern has the second highest growth rate among top Minnesota institutions (Twin Cities Business), while average GPA and graduation rates remain competitive and tuition is comparatively low among peers.

UNW ranked #13 Regional College Midwest
U.S. News, College Ranking lists

Northwestern ranked 13th among 70+ schools based on data gathered nationally by U.S. News for 2014 College Ranking lists. After dividing schools into categories based on mission and location, rankings were determined by a composite score based on 16 weighted indicators related to academic excellence.


UNW ranked in Top 25 Colleges and Universities 
Twin Cities Business Magazine, 2014 Black Book Business Lists

Measured alongside institutions like St. Thomas, the University of Minnesota, Hamline and Bethel University, UNW had the second highest student growth rate. Among six institutions with positive growth, UNW had the second highest graduation rate (6 year), and the second highest average GPA (3.23).


UNW ranked #3 on Top 10 Online Christian Colleges & Universities of 2014

We offer PSEO and early college, graduate and undergraduate degrees online, as well as 50 available individual courses in Bible and the liberal arts, serving 1,186 students last year.

“With solid student satisfaction and instructional quality indicators, affordable tuition, and a high percentage of students receiving financial aid, Northwestern deserves to be considered one of the best places to go for an online Christian degree.”

Prof. Kent Kaiser interviews on the American family

Joining Dr. Mitch Pearlstein, professor Kent Kaiser interviewed with Broken Road Radio on Tuesday, January 21 to discuss Pearlstein's book From Family Collapse to America's Decline, which examines the relationship between government and family in America.  Listen online

Pearlstein is president, and Kaiser a senior fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, "a nonpartisan, tax-exempt, public policy and educational institution that brings conservative and free market ideas to bear on the hardest problems facing Minnesota and the nation."


Board approves athletic facilities, construction to begin

Spring will mark the awaited groundbreaking for new athletic facilities on Northwestern's campus, with the university's board of trustees' recent approval of a $10.7 million construction project. Completion is anticipated for fall 2014, accommodating football, soccer, baseball and softball teams with new, artificial turf fields, and welcoming UNW tennis teams back on campus with six regulation size courts. In addition to the new fields and courts, the complex will feature updated bleacher seating for nearly 1,500 fans, locker rooms for 192 student athletes, and a spirit plaza with restroom and concessions facilities. Funds for the project have been raised through the successful Soar Campaign.

"Moving forward with these improvements for the athletic facilities expands our varsity student athletics and student recreation programs, a necessary development in order to grow and maintain a competitive standard locally and regionally," said Alan Cureton, Ph.D., University of Northwestern president. "It will clearly have a positive impact on our student body and incoming students as we anticipate adding JV teams, launching new varsity programs, and increasing the roster for many of the varsity sports."

Throughout the last decade Northwestern has repurposed multiple athletic venues for academic and community growth, pushing several Eagles teams off-campus for practice and students involved in outdoor campus recreation to city-owned parks. These students will return to campus, as will summer camp attendees and outside community groups.

"This is an exciting time in Northwestern's history," said Matt Hill, Ed.D., vice president for student life and athletics. "The versatility in the design of these four excellent venues benefits our student athletes, the general student body, physical education majors and the surrounding community by providing a well-rounded student experience."

While incoming students will start their athletic careers in new facilities, staff and current students are looking forward to the transition.

"In addition to a new surface and stadium for our team's game day experience, we'll be fortunate to not wear down our baseball team's outfield for practice, and the artificial turf won't allow rain and other weather elements to be a factor in how we prepare for Saturdays," said head football coach Kirk Talley. "The larger locker rooms for student athletes will allow for more interaction among teammates."

Northwestern has contracted with PCL Construction, Inc. for the project. In the Twin Cities metro area, PCL is most recently known for its work on the University of Minnesota's $7.2 million Siebert Field baseball complex, finished in April 2013.

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