Does Dartmouth Affect New Hampshire’s Student Debt Rates?

I was looking at an older NY Times article about student debt, and noted this paragraph:

The report found that student debt loads vary substantially from state to state: New Hampshire students topped the list, owing an average of $31,048, while Utah’s students averaged half that. Students borrow more in the Northeast and Midwest, where there are more private nonprofit colleges, than in the West, where a greater share of students attend public universities.

I’d generally blamed the New Hampshire debt problem largely on our higher in-state tuition, and certainly that’s huge factor. But something occurred to reading that line — we are a small state with one of the world’s most expensive private schools in it. Published tuition at Dartmouth tops $41,000 a year; with room and board it’s about $55,000 a year. [Add net price caveat here, yadda, yadda]

Something like that could have an outsized effect in a small state. So just out of curiosity, what percent of New Hampshire students attend Dartmouth?

I wanted to limit it to undergrad, but I also wanted a quick answer. So for a rough guesstimate I took the table here, removed the community college system from it, and ignored the undergrad/graduate distinction.

And the interesting thing is that Dartmouth does have an impact on the state. There’s about 55,000 students in New Hampshire, Dartmouth has about 10% of them. Even if you were to filter out the post-bacc students across the board, Dartmouth would still approach 10%. To put it in perspective, Dartmouth has almost as many undergrads as Keene State.

So what’s the effect? Here’s where it goes in a direction I didn’t expect — Dartmouth students graduate with less debt… if we filtered out the effect of Dartmouth, our students would actually owe more than the average currently indicates.


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