According to a study on student debt by the Institute for College Access & Success, “two-thirds of college seniors who graduated in 2011 had student loan debt, with an average of $26,000 per borrower.”
“These figures reflect one of the key advantages of attending a liberal arts college like Whitman – access to financial aid that levels the playing field when comparing tuition prices,” said Tony Cabasco, Whitman’s dean of admission and financial aid. “But if you also consider the lasting value and benefits of a Whitman liberal arts education, such as small class sizes, focus on broad and deep intellectual development, high graduation rates and completion in four years, the debt figures become even more meaningful.”By comparison, Whitman students fare well: for the Class of 2011, 45 percent have debt and the average amount is $17,711. Indebtedness of Whitman graduates also compares favorably to those who graduated from the University of Washington, where the average debt is more than $20,000, and Washington State University, where the figure exceeds $22,000. And, Whitman’s rate is fourth-lowest among national liberal arts colleges in the western U.S.
About 80 percent of Whitman students receive financial aid directly from the college. Among them are those who also are supported through Pell grants and other outside scholarships and grants, as well as student loans. Whitman considers multiple dimensions when awarding scholarship assistance – some awards are based on need alone, some on merit alone, but most are based on a combination of both elements, according to Cabasco.
Annually, Whitman awards more than $22 million in financial assistance. The average need-based scholarship award, not including loans, is $26,000.