UTRGV ranks first in least student debt

EDINBURG — The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley ranked first nationally among public institutions for least student debt, according to a report released by U.S. News & World Report.

The rankings put the average debt for students who graduated from UTRGV in 2017 at $10,054, significantly below the national average of $30,000

Factoring private universities, UTRGV ranked fourth, coming in behind Harvard, Princeton and Duke.

“At UTRGV students can obtain a high-quality education without mortgaging their future, and this prestigious ranking is proof of that,” UTRGV President Guy Bailey wrote in a statement. “I truly believe that UTRGV provides the best value of any university in the country.”

UTRGV spokesperson Patrick Gonzales says the ranking shows that the university is succeeding in serving the community.

“We were thrilled,” Gonzales said. “We really pride ourselves on the impact we have on social mobility. We’re able to take students who don’t come from the best economic background, getting them through school, graduating them, and putting them in careers that completely change the landscape for their future and sometimes their family’s future. You can’t really have an impact on social mobility if they’re graduating with debt.”

According to Gonzales, a number of factors contributed to the ranking, including guaranteed tuition, the university’s 12-hour cap and especially overall price point.

“The biggest is price point,” he said. “We are the lowest among the UT schools and of the 37 public schools in the state of Texas, we’re the second lowest, and so when you think about all the programs we offer, all the degree plans we offer, the fact that we have a division one athletic program, the fact that we have a school of medicine, when you think about all of that, it’s just incredible that we’re able to keep that price point that low.”

Gonzales says he expects debt to remain low for UTRGV students, especially because of the tuition advantage program set to begin in the fall.

The program will cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees for students with a family income of $75,000 or less.

“To think that we got ranked so high in lowest student debt even before tuition advantage goes into effect is amazing, because once that goes into effect in the fall we’ll be ranked even better in future rankings,” Gonzales said.

mwilson@themonitor.com