According to a Poets & Quants article, graduating MBAs have more debt than ever, “so much so that a record number of the leading business schools now decline to even share the embarrassing burdens they have put on their students.” Combined, students who graduated last year from the top 10 U.S. business schools borrowed $317.4 million (just in graduate loans); six-figure debt is becoming the norm, at least at these top schools. In 2011, there were only two schools that reported this staggering six-digit debt; last year there were 13.
Here are some highlights from the P&Q article:
• At the higher end of the six-figure range, UPenn Wharton’s grads left school with an average debt of $122,370; at the lower end, UVA Darden grads were left with $100,083 in debt.
• Wharton’s class of 2015 borrowed about $47.5 million. Columbia’s class of 2015 borrowed roughly $59.3 million.
• Schools that no longer disclose their debt data include USC Marshall, Dartmouth Tuck, Columbia Business School, Georgetown McDonough, and Northwestern Kellogg.
• Six of the 25 schools with the highest levels of student debt were public university business schools. MBAs from UCLA Anderson averaged debt of about $88,654, about $5,000 more than the students at Stanford GSB.
• One consequence of this rising debt is that MBAs are pushing off marriage. According to Dora Gicheva, an economist at UNC, the likelihood of getting married within seven years of graduating decreases by 3-4% for every $10,000 in debt that the person carries.
• Another consequence: students are turning down acceptances at highly ranked schools to attend schools with lower tuition or where they were awarded more scholarship money. (The AIGAC 2016 Applicant Survey shows that 30% of applicants consider costs when selecting a program, and are subsequently turning to other types of programs other than the traditional two-year U.S. MBA programs.)
• Some schools have kept their debt numbers down (relatively speaking) by offering more scholarship money. For example, only 47% of Stanford class of 2015 graduates and only 55% of HBS grads borrowed money, compared to a whopping 70% at Yale.
• The average debt burden for graduates of UWisconsin’s Business School in Madison was only $15,481, more than $108,000 less than the average debt at Wharton. Meanwhile, the median first-year compensation package for Wisconsin MBAs was $114,481, only $31,609 less than the Wharton grad salary.
Here’s the data from P&Q on the average amount of debt and percent of MBAs in debt at the top schools: