Published on October 28, 2020 by Sarah Cain  

Samford University graduates continue to achieve exceptionally low student loan default rates according to the latest data released by the U.S. Department of Education.

Student loan refinancing service LendEDU's analysis of the data showed Samford's default rate is 2.6% for 2017, the most recent year for which data is publicly available. The rate is significantly below the state average of 10.37% and national averages of 7.1% for public institutions and 6.5% for private institutions. 

According to Lane Smith, Samford's director of Student Financial Services, the university's consistently low default rates can be attributed to efforts across campus, from financial counseling to career placement services.

"At Samford, we credit the low student loan default rates to our very hands-on approach to assisting students and their families from recruitment, into the classroom, and beyond," Smith said. "It starts from admission and continues with our faculty providing an education that effectively prepares our students for the careers they are seeking."  

Default rates, measured by the percentage of students who fail to begin making payments on their federal student loans within three years of graduating, continue to receive national attention as student loan debt continues to rise and impact the borrower's long-term financial stability. An estimated $1.67 trillion is owed in student loan debt nationally, making this one of the most significant economic challenges facing our country today. 

Smith attributes three key factors to students being able to afford loan repayment after graduation—an effective recruitment process that provides personalized financial counseling prior to enrollment; faculty and staff who effectively prepare graduates for success in their careers post-Samford; and exceptional alumni who continue to pursue excellence long after receiving their diplomas. 

In May, LendEDU ranked Samford among the best nationally for its return on investment for students. The university ranked 2nd in Alabama and 129th out of the 798 national four-year colleges and universities analyzed for its fifth annual College Risk-Reward Indicator study. 

Samford graduates have proven to be well prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation, making it easier for them to begin paying back student loans. In 2019, 97% of undergraduate alumni were employed, attending graduate school or in a post-graduation internship within six months of graduation.

"Approaching success with the mindset of academic, professional, spiritual and financial preparedness has been key in our students being truly ready for all responsibilities upon graduation," Smith said. "We credit the success of this model with the lasting relationship we develop with our graduates and their families and the value they know they are receiving with an education from Samford."

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.