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Dalton State Named School with Lowest Student Loan Debt

Selena Martinez is beginning to look toward life after graduation, and the reality of finding a job in her career is setting in.

But unlike many other college seniors close to graduating, Martinez will enter the adult world with no student loan debt.

“I am so thankful that I will not have the stress of paying off any student debt,” said Martinez, who will graduate in the spring of 2017 with a degree in English with a teaching certificate in secondary education. “I can emerge confidently into the real world with nothing holding me down.”

Most students who graduate from Dalton State do so with little or no student loan debt. The website lendedu.com recently named Dalton State as leaving students with the lowest student loan debt, with an average of $3,000 borrowed, among public 4-year colleges.

“Although we read about students burdened with heavy debt and poor job prospects, I am proud to say that is not the case for our students at Dalton State,” said President Dr. Margaret Venable. “Our students are afforded a high quality education and are prepared to become productive citizens upon graduation, and all of this is available at a very reasonable price.”

Tuition and fees for 15 hours of classes at Dalton State is only $2,058 a semester for Georgia students. But that isn’t all that contributes to the small amount of student loan debt accrued by students.

More than 50 percent of students receive need-based financial aid, and a survey conducted by the College recently indicates more than 69 percent of seniors are working at least 15 hours a week while in school, said Dr. Jodi Johnson, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services.

“Our mission states, ‘Dalton State College provides a diverse student population with opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to attain affordable baccalaureate degrees, associate degrees, and certificates and to reach their personal and professional goals,’” she said. “By providing students with the opportunity to earn a quality degree with little or no debt, we are meeting our stated mission. Dalton State students are able to earn a degree without burdening themselves with a load of debt. Graduates are able to pursue jobs in their chosen field and plan for their futures without a large cloud of debt hanging over their heads.”

Many Dalton State students also receive scholarships. Martinez said she received financial aid plus scholarships to help prevent taking out loans.

“I was looking for a college with low tuition and close to home,” she said. “And fortunately I found Dalton State. It’s extremely affordable and offers numerous opportunities. I applied for every scholarship I could find, including the Dalton State Foundation Freshman Scholarship. When I began my freshman year, I had been awarded three scholarships. In order to maintain them, I must continue to work hard and maintain a high GPA. Because of all that, I will graduate with no debt at all. I’m thankful for that.”

Graduating with no or little student debt leaves removes the burden of having to pay back student loans while trying to manage a car payment, mortgage, or rent.