UNMC leads nation in repayment rates for Pell Grant recipients

by Kalani Simpson
February 08, 2019

Image with file name: nursing_students_faculty_member.jpg

The University of Nebraska Medical Center leads the nation in four-year public institutions with the highest five-year repayment rates of student loans by Pell Grant recipients, according to a recent list compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Karen Schledewitz, student services coordinator of the UNMC College of Nursing West Nebraska Division, said the report confirms what she has seen time and again: that getting a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) degree at UNMC is more affordable than most think.
"I have worked with many students who wondered if they could afford to get their BSN here in Scottsbluff but have found it very affordable through the Collegebound Nebraska Program," Schledewitz said.
In fact, 90.2 percent of UNMC Pell Grant recipients in UNMC’s bachelor’s-level programs have paid into the principal of their student loans after five years.
Pell Grants are administered by the U.S. Department of Education for students from low-income families with exceptional financial need.
The University of Nebraska's Collegebound Nebraska program guarantees Nebraska-resident Pell Grant recipients (who file on time) full tuition costs in grants and aid. This program is one factor that keeps a UNMC education - and, just as important, paying it off - within reach for students with limited financial resources, Schledewitz said.
This is true for UNMC nursing students whether they attend classes in Omaha, Lincoln, Norfolk, Kearney or Scottsbluff.
Judi Walker, UNMC director of financial aid, noted that in addition to tuition assistance, "Many students have received significant funding for their fee costs, also."
Resources available to students include Collegebound Nebraska and University Tuition Grants, the state's Nebraska Opportunity Grant, the Buffett Foundation and the generosity of myriad donors who contribute to the University of Nebraska Foundation scholarship programs, Walker said.
Through these grants and scholarships, and restrictive annual loan limits, "most of our students leave with less than $25,000 of debt load," Walker said.
These students also leave in high demand in a relatively well-paid health professionals job market. This is especially true in nursing, where UNMC is working to fill Nebraska’s ongoing nursing shortage.
"They are gainfully employed and with lower debt," Walker said. "Many leave UNMC with the goal of paying the debt off in five years."
Many also are armed with a plan to do so thanks to UNMC's financial aid office, which offers one-on-one student-loan counseling at any time during attendance. Additionally, graduating students are urged to take part in one-on-one exit counseling in order to understand the rights and responsibilities of student loan repayment.
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