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Student Loan Debt

Our financial aid office works with students to make sure they graduate with as little debt as possible. In fact, about 60% of our students graduate from Whitman with no loan debt at all.

Whitman students and their families are able to keep their debt rates low and their costs affordable in part because we are committed to helping them create a realistic view of their college expenses so they don’t take out larger loans than they need. We also assist students in finding and applying for outside scholarships to help pay for their expenses.

We're happy to help you at any stage in the financial aid process. Get in touch by sending us an email or giving us a call at 509-527-5178.

The Office of Financial Aid has made it possible for me to attend Whitman College without accumulating a significant amount of debt. I have been receiving financial aid for four years now and the Financial Aid office has helped me figure out my financial aid through changes in family income, off-campus housing and changes in my financial aid due to being an RA. Ricardo Vivanco ’18


Average Student Loan Debt per Borrower–Whitman vs. Public Colleges

Student loan debt per borrower - Whitman vs public schools

Average Student Loan Debt per Borrower–Whitman vs. Private Colleges

Student loan debt per borrower - Whitman vs private schools

Federal Loans

If you do need to take out a loan to pay for your education, we recommend that you explore the federal government’s loan programs first, as the interest rates and other terms are typically much better than you could get with a private loan.

Whitman offers several types of federal loans:

    • Federal Direct Subsidized Loans (for students borrowers)
    • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan (for student borrowers)
    • Direct PLUS Loans (for parents of undergraduate students)

Direct PLUS Loans are not included in student financial aid award packages. They are, however, an additional source of funds parents can use to help fund their student's education.

You will need to complete the FAFSA if you’d like to be considered for any of these loan programs. If you don’t initially apply for need-based aid and you decide later that you need a loan, you can apply for these loans by completing the FAFSA and a direct federal loan request form.

Both the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Direct PLUS Loan accrue interest while the student is in college, and you do not have demonstrated financial need to be eligible to borrow under these programs. To be able to borrow under the Federal Direct Subsidized Loan program, you will have to demonstrate financial need.

Whitman's Cohort Default Rate (CDR) is a calculation of federal student loan borrowers who defaulted on their federal student loans within a specified period of time after entering repayment. The most current Cohort Default Rates for Whitman College are:

2020: 0.0% (Federal Loans on COVID payment pause)
2019 : 0.0% (Federal Loans on COVID payment pause)
2018: 1.4%
2017: 1.0%

Private Loans

Private loans, also known as alternative loans, are available to borrowers who may need additional funding for unmet college expenses. Some private loan lenders also offer parent private loans as well. These loans are borrowed by the parent, in place of the student.

Private loans require a credit check and/or credit worthy co-signer. The annual amount of any private loan cannot exceed the cost of attendance minus other financial aid for the loan period requested.

Whitman College does not endorse any lender or lending institution. We will process a private education loan from any lending institution requested. However, to assist you in your search for a lender, we provide a tool called ELM Select. ELM Select is a private loan selection tool that helps students and parents find a lender that suits their borrowing strategies for a private loan. To utilize ELM Select, in funding a lender that is right for you, please visit the Whitman ELM Select webpage.

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