Good news: People living near UCF area have less student loan debt than other Orlando neighborhoods.
According to an interactive released by The Washington Center for Equitable Growth, UCF-area residents have an average amount of student loan debt, whereas people in the immediate surrounding area have a student loan debt amounts that range from slightly high to somewhat high.
In comparison, the average loan debt in the area near the University of Florida is high, and the area surrounding Florida State is slightly high. Meanwhile, the average student loan debt near Florida International University is average.
The rest of Orlando’s student debt average ranges from low near the Econlockhatchee River to astronomical in Baldwin Park. People who live near Union Park or Wedgefield, both of which touch the UCF area, are considered to have an average amount of student loan debt.
The interactive doesn’t list dollar amounts for student loans, but it does go into detail on what each rank means in relation to the national average. Low is 100 to 30 percent less, average is within 10 percent, slightly high is 10 to 20 percent higher, somewhat high is 25 to 35 percent higher and astronomical is 100 to 734 percent more than the national average.
The Experian consumer data used to create the map on student debt had eight key variables, including the average number of student loans and the average balance on open student loans reported in the last six months.
Sean Snaith, director of the Institue for Economic Competitiveness at UCF, said that the differences could exist because a variety of factors, including class standing or if the loans were co-signed.
“As far as current students here at UCF and what their levels of debt are, you’re dealing with, presumably, students in all years of their study at UCF,” he said. “If you’re a sophomore at UCF, even if you’re financing your education in a large part with student loans, you won’t have built up as large a balance as someone who’s graduated ...”
If students have co-signers on their loans, the loan balance would be shared with whomever co-signed on the loan, which could skew the numbers. The difference could also lie in the class standing of the individuals, Snaith said.
“You’re averaging students at different stages of their education,” he said. “So their level of student loans is not going to be what it is by the time they graduate.”
The national student loan average is $24,271, according to the Washington Center. According to College Factual’s website, undergrads at UCF take out an annual average of $7,170 in student loans. The UCF Financial Aid office was unavailable for comment at the time this article was published.
While the number of student loan borrowers has increased to 42 million, and the total volume of outstanding federal debt is more than $1.1 trillion, the report found that student loans are more of a problem for those who attend two-year for-profit institutions than for students who attend four-year nonprofit public and private universities.
According to the study, four-year borrowers represent the majority of student loans, and their higher earnings, lower rates of unemployment and greater family resources enable them to avoid adverse loan outcomes.
Snaith said that these are only some of the reasons that the large student concentration around UCF has lower loan averages than other areas.
“I think reading a little bit about how that data was put together and constructed, I think explains some of those results that at first glance don’t seem to make that much sense,” Snaith said.
The study uncovered a correlation between income levels and delinquincy on loan payments.
“As far as a place like Baldwin park ... the other factor to look at is that you’ve got very high levels of debt and very low levels of delinquincy,” Snaith said. “But the other piece of data ... is income.”
If someone went to law school or medical school, even if they financed those studies with loans, the income of those jobs would allow individuals to have more than enough to stay on top of their loans, Snaith said.
Alissa Smith is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @thealissasmith or email her at AlissaS@centralfloridafuture.com.