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Here’s how student loan defaults stack up at USF, St. Petersburg College and other local schools

Margie Manning

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University of South Florida students repay their student loans at a higher rate than students at most other schools in the state.

Just 1.2 percent of USF student loans were in default in fiscal year 2016, according to a new ranking by personal finance website LendEDU. In contrast, the student loan default rate at all schools in Florida was 7.33 percent and the national average was 10.1 percent.

USF had the lowest default rate among five colleges and universities in the Tampa-St. Pete area.

USF also had a lower default rate than four other large universities statewide.

The study did not provide individual numbers for the three USF campuses. It also did not provide individual breakouts for two Florida schools with campuses in the area — Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport and Nova Southeastern University Tampa Bay regional campus in Clearwater.

For the study, LendEDU crunched numbers from nearly 4,500 schools in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C., based on data released by the U.S. Department of Education on Sept. 23.

Nevada had the highest state default rate at 18.16 percent, while Massachusetts had the lowest default rate at 5.82 percent. For-profit schools had a collective default rate of 15.2 percent compared to 9.6 percent at public schools and 6.6 percent at nonprofit private schools.

Federal student loans are considered to be in default if payments are late by 270 days, or roughly nine months, LendEDU said. For private student loans, defaults vary by lender but typically are deemed in default when a payment is late by three or four months.

Borrowers who don’t repay their loans can have their tax refunds, Social Security benefits or wages garnished, and credit scores may be damaged, among other consequences, LendEDU said.

Student loan defaults are rising, the study noted, citing a report from the Brookings Institute that estimated nearly 40 percent of borrowers may default on their student loans by 2023.

See the complete LendEDU study here.

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