Is it a good deal? ‘College Scorecard’ shows costs, stats

Of the four-year colleges in Fargo-Moorhead, Concordia College saddles its students with the most debt: $27,000 for the undergraduates who complete college, and that's just federal loans.

Of the four-year colleges in Fargo-Moorhead, Concordia College saddles its students with the most debt: $27,000 for the undergraduates who complete college, and that’s just federal loans.

But the small Lutheran college also has the highest percentage of students in the area who pay down their debt, with 95 percent of graduates repaying at least $1 on the principal balance within three years of leaving campus.

These are the kinds of statistics that incoming students and their parents can now access on “College Scorecard,” an online tool launched by the Obama administration earlier this month.

Overall, Scorecard shows that local colleges are performing at or above average on metrics such as graduation rate, salary after attending and percentage of students paying down debt.

For each college, Scorecard also shows average annual cost, graduation rate in six years, a typical monthly loan payment for a graduate, available degree programs, and the diversity of the student body by socio-economic status and race or ethnicity.


Lisa Christianson, career resource specialist at Fargo South High School, will probably use the tool with students later this year, simply for the convenience of having those statistics in one place.

“If you would go to an actual college website and try to find all that information in one spot, I don’t know if you’d be able to,” she said. “It’s one straight shot. Here’s everything, right there for you.”

Some of the Scorecard information used to be a hassle to find, Christianson said, and other portions weren’t available at all, such as the median salary of a student 10 years after enrolling, which was a joint effort of the departments of Education and the Treasury.

Here are the highlights from the data on local colleges:


Six years after they enroll, the majority of students at Concordia, Minnesota State University Moorhead, North Dakota State University and University of North Dakota make more than the average 25- to 34-year-old with only a high school diploma, Scorecard shows.

But 10 years after they enroll, former NDSU and UND students make almost $10,000 more than former MSUM students.

The median salary for a former NDSU student who received federal financial aid is $46,300, and $46,600 for a former UND student. For former MSUM students, the median salary is $37,000.


At Concordia, the median salary 10 years after enrollment is $41,200, just under the $41,400 median salary for students who went to North Dakota State College of Science.

The national average is $34,343.


MSUM students leave school with the least amount of debt of any four-year school in the region, according to Scorecard. Their typical load is $23,056, compared to $24,500 at UND, $25,050 at NDSU and $27,000 at Concordia.

All of those schools have high rates of students paying down their debt, though.

On average, 67 percent of students repay at least $1 on the principal balance of their federal loans within three years of leaving school. But that statistic is 87 percent at MSUM, 92 percent at UND, 93 percent at NDSU and 95 percent at Concordia.

Maris Pederson, a junior at Fargo North High School, hadn’t heard of Scorecard but said she would probably use the tool just to know “how much debt I would be in after school,” she said. The 16-year-old intends to pay for college herself and said she would like to to be able to plan ahead.

Graduation rate


Most local schools also have a higher rate of students graduating in six years than the national average, which is 44 percent, according to Scorecard.

At Concordia, 70 percent of full-time, first-time students graduate in six years. At NDSU, 53 percent graduate in six years, and at UND, 55 percent.

At MSUM, 46 percent of students graduate in six years, which Scorecard considers “about average.”


MSUM has the most-diverse student body of schools in the region: 33 percent of students have a family income of less than $40,000 and receive a federal Pell Grant, and 22 percent are not white.

At NDSU, 23 percent of students come from a low-income family and 12 percent are not white. At UND, 21 percent are from low-income families and 18 percent are not white.

The Concordia student body is 24 percent from low-income families and 16 percent nonwhite.

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