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Given that traditional revenue streams in higher education are declining across the country, and the cost of getting an education is increasing, it is critical for students, along with their families, to make informed decisions about their academic careers. The UT System has developed this website and complementary online tool that provide valuable data about employment earnings for the first five years after graduation, as well as average student loan debt, for graduates by degree major.
Even as the cost of earning a degree is rising, having a college degree has become a minimum requirement for even entry-level jobs in many fields. To finance an education, students and their families must find the right balance of available grant and scholarship aid and family financial contributions, with student loans making up the difference. Based on The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s 2011 estimate, 37 million borrowers owed $870 billion in student loan debt. And, while debt itself is not inherently bad, uninformed borrowing decisions can lead to burdensome debt loads.
To help students make more informed decisions, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa created the Student Debt Reduction Task Force as part of his strategic framework. The Task Force studied the factors contributing to student debt and offered recommendations for easing the burden on students and their parents. The group’s final report proposed helping students match their financial investment to the financial returns they can expect to receive from their degree.
Following on that recommendation, the UT System entered into an agreement with the Texas Workforce Commission to share data related to occupational outcomes for students graduating from UT institutions. With this data, the UT System has developed an online tool that allows students to view information by degree major, including first- and fifth-year median earnings, average student loan debt for graduates, and descriptions of the degree majors.
This comprehensive online tool will go a long way in helping students and their families plan their future based on a foundation of realistic expectations of potential student loan debt and post-graduation earnings.
Students, now more than ever, have various career and degree options from which to choose. On the one hand, the STEM fields – which include science, technology, engineering, and math – as well as medical fields, are in high demand and offer the opportunity for success. On the other hand, a liberal arts education with its immersion in the world of the arts, communications, critical thinking, and collaborative skills, allows students to engage most effectively in a global environment that thrives on multicultural exchanges. Whatever the path, information to help students make decisions along the way to acquiring a quality education is invaluable.
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seekUT is an ongoing effort. New data and new views will be added. Stay connected for the latest news and updates.