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Making a WCC Degree Count

Earlier this year – before everything turned upside down – I wrote about WCC’s affordability. At the time, the Administration was pushing a $10-per-credit-hour “facilities fee” to pay for the “Advanced Transportation Center” and the Student Center remodeling. Fast forward to this week, and WalletHub’s assessment of the nation’s community colleges. WCC lands in the top one-third, largely because of its current tuition rate. But it lands near the bottom for “career outcomes.” Which got me thinking about the value of a WCC degree.

WalletHub compared the average WCC graduate/attendee’s salary with that of the “average” high school graduate. WalletHub doesn’t think that a WCC degree puts much distance between a WCC graduate and the average high school diplomate. Oops.

But it’s more than that. When you look at statistics from the US Department of Education , WCC has a 17.9% student loan default rate. People who attended WCC and borrowed to finance their educations deserve a degree that enables them to pay off their student loans. Having a WCC degree should mean that you’re better off than you would have been, otherwise right?

The overall national default rate for all student loan borrowers is 10.1%. The average national community college default rate is 15.9%. The student loan default rate for Michigan institutions is 11.5%.

WCC’s student loan default rate is higher than all of those. No matter how you look at WCC, its student loan default rate is higher than average. People default on their student loans for a lot of reasons. But people with a high-quality education tend to earn enough to repay their student loans.

The student loan defaults and the WalletHub rankings are red flags. The Trustees would do well to start asking some hard questions.

Photo Credit: Washtenaw Community College, via Flickr