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College-bound students and their families are often anxious about taking on student loan debt, but taking the time to research your options can minimize the debt burden that often comes with a degree.

Before choosing a college, high school seniors and their families should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and apply to multiple colleges. The next step is to compare the financial aid offers they receive from each school.

Every school’s financial aid offer should make it clear how much a student’s first year of college will cost. For most students, it will also show how much they’ll need to borrow. But the financial aid offer won’t tell students what they can expect to earn after graduation, or how much debt might be reasonable to take on.

How much of a burden debt places on a student depends not just on how much they borrow, but how much they earn after they graduate. To help students and their families evaluate their options, Credible has ranked 44 four-year universities in Michigan by analyzing recent students’ debt-to-income (DTI) ratios. The lower the DTI ratio, the better.

Here are the charts and data you’ll find below:

Main findings

When borrowing for college, an old rule of thumb is not to take on more debt than your expected annual salary at graduation. So graduating with a student loan DTI above 1.0 could be problematic.

Some key takeaways from 44 school analyzed:

  • Average student loan DTI: 0.75
  • Percentage of schools with below-average DTI: 55%
  • Number of schools with a DTI of 1.0 or higher: 3

Another widely tracked metric is the percentage of students who are able to repay at least $1 in loan principal within three years of leaving school. At schools with higher DTIs, a smaller proportion of students are able to repay at least $1 in student loan debt within 3 years of graduation.

Lowest debt-to-income ratio*

1. Walsh College: 0.31
2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor: 0.33
3. Kettering University: 0.41
4. Siena Heights University: 0.44
5. Michigan Technological University: 0.45
6. Cleary University: 0.49
7. University of Detroit Mercy: 0.52
8. Northwood University: 0.52
9. Lawrence Technological University: 0.58
10. Ferris State University: 0.59

Highest debt-to-income ratio*

35. Finlandia University: 0.83
36. Adrian College: 0.84
37. Aquinas College: 0.85
38. Concordia University, Ann Arbor: 0.87
39. Olivet College: 0.92
40. Kuyper College: 0.92
41. South University, Novi: 0.93
42. University of Phoenix, Michigan: 1.16
43. Marygrove College: 1.39
44. Great Lakes Christian College: 1.39

Lowest median debt at graduation

1. Walsh College: $15,154
2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor: $16,606
3. Siena Heights University: $17,250
4. Northwood University: $21,500
5. Ferris State University: $21,591
6. Cleary University: $22,000
7. Northern Michigan University: $22,250
8. Finlandia University: $22,327
9. Wayne State University: $22,500
10. Lake Superior State University: $23,095

Highest median debt at graduation

33. Lawrence Technological University: $27,000
34. Albion College: $27,000
35. Central Michigan University: $27,000
36. Alma College: $27,000
37. College for Creative Studies:$27,000
38. University of Michigan, Flint: $27,000
39. Adrian College: $27,000
40. Olivet College: $27,000
41. Great Lakes Christian College: $27,250
42. Kettering University: $28,726
43. Marygrove College: $31,803
44. University of Phoenix, Michigan: $32,813

Highest median earnings 6 years after enrollment

1. Kettering University: $70,700
2. Michigan Technological University: $55,200
3. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor: $49,800
4. Walsh College: $49,200
5. Lawrence Technological University: $46,300
6. University of Detroit Mercy: $45,100
7. Cleary University: $44,700
8. Michigan State University: $41,600
9. Northwood University: $41,200
10. Siena Heights University: $39,500

Lowest median earnings 6 years after enrollment

35. Lake Superior State University: $29,500
36. Olivet College: $29,400
37. Concordia University, Ann Arbor: $28,700
38. Northern Michigan University: $28,500
39. University of Phoenix, Michigan: $28,400
40. Kuyper College: $27,200
41. South University-Novi: $26,900
42. Finlandia University: $26,800
43. Marygrove College: $22,900
44. Great Lakes Christian College: $19,600

Highest percentage of students repaying at least $1 in debt within 3 years of graduation

1. Kettering University: 96.2%
2. Calvin College: 89.4%
3. Michigan Technological University: 89.1%
4. Kalamazoo College: 85.7%
5. Hope College: 84.9%
6. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor: 82.7%
7. University of Detroit Mercy: 82.3%
8. Lawrence Technological University: 81.5%
9. Albion College: 79.7%
10. Alma College: 79.5%

Lowest percentage of students repaying at least $1 in debt within 3 years of graduation

35. Siena Heights University: 59.6%
36. Eastern Michigan University: 59.5%
37. Madonna University: 57.8%
38. Wayne State University: 57.2%
39. Davenport University: 56.9%
40. Rochester College: 53.2%
41. University of Michigan, Flint: 52.4%
42. South University, Novi: 45.3%
43. University of Phoenix, Michigan: 42.1%
44. Marygrove College: 40.8%

*Methodology: This analysis is based on data collected by the Department of Education and made available to the public through College Scorecard. To calculate DTI ratios for each school, Credible divided median student loan debt at graduation by the median earnings of all students who were working and not enrolled in school six years after starting college, including those who did not earn a degree. Data on debt at graduation was collected in 2017 and 2018. Earnings data was collected in 2014 and 2015, and adjusted by the Department of Education to 2017 dollars to account for inflation. Data is for schools that predominantly grant bachelor’s degrees. Schools that did not provide data necessary to calculate debt-to-earnings ratio were excluded. Because earnings also depend on the field of study, students should also use College Scorecard to research debt and earnings by major.

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Learn more: These California Colleges Have the Lowest and Highest Student Loan Debt-to-Income Ratios

About the author
Matt Carter
Matt Carter

Matt Carter is an expert on student loans. Analysis pieces he’s contributed to have been featured by CNBC, CNN Money, USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

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