Chancellor Zimpher Announces Reduced Loan Default Rates Among SUNY Students

November 19, 2015

U.S. Department of Education Data Show Improvement for SUNY Campuses in Every Sector

Chancellor Zimpher To Credit SUNY’s Affordability & SUNY Smart Track Program During “Stand with SUNY” Visit to Mohawk Valley

Utica – During a visit to the Mohawk Valley region to discuss the Stand with SUNY campaign with area civic leaders, State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher today will attribute reduced loan default rates among students to the affordability of a SUNY education and the university system’s SUNY Smart Track program, which helps student borrowers make informed financial decisions, supports degree completion, and positions students to successfully repay their loans.

Data recently released by the U.S. Department of Education show significant improvement for SUNY campuses in every sector and region. At SUNY campuses in the Mohawk Valley, rates are below the national average, including 2.1 percent at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry; 4.6 percent at SUNY Polytechnic Institute; 13.2 percent at Herkimer County Community College; and 18.6 percent at Mohawk Valley Community College.

“SUNY Smart Track is the nation’s most comprehensive push to ensure financial literacy and provide support for students,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “Together with the affordability of a SUNY education and tuition predictability provided by NYSUNY 2020, we have found precisely the right combination of cost transparency and financial planning to support student completion and success. With continued state investment for our campuses in the Mohawk Valley region and throughout SUNY, we will keep doing all we can to ensure that student borrowers are able to finish their degree and graduate without unmanageable loan debt.”

“This federal data only proves what we already knew – that as a result of SUNY’s commitment to affordability, access, completion, and success, students are increasingly in a position to graduate on-time and in a stronger position to pay off their loans,” said Thomas Mastro, SUNY trustee and president of the SUNY Student Assembly. “Under Chancellor Zimpher’s leadership and with the tuition predictability provided by NYSUNY 2020, college costs at SUNY have remained among the lowest in the Northeast and more transparent than anywhere else in the country. Continued investment from New York State will help us keep this positive momentum going for student success.”

SUNY Smart Track is the most proactive, comprehensive approach by any university system in the U.S. to address national concern about the lack of transparency as it relates to college costs and financial aid, and the amount of loan debt accumulated by today’s college students. The program encompasses default prevention activities across SUNY and includes:

  • A Standard Award Letter used by all campuses that clearly identifies all financial aid options available to the student;
  • Financial Literacy resources and tools available on all SUNY campus websites, promoting financial wellness for prospective and current students as well as their families;
  • Student engagement activities such as encouraging the academic success of “at-risk” student borrowers to ensure they remain on track to degree completion; and
  • SUNY-wide Default Prevention and Financial Literacy Task Forces, which monitor the success of the program and look for continuous improvement.

According to the 2012 federal cohort default rates released by the U. S. Department of Education, SUNY has seen significant reductions over the rates published last year. By sector:

  • All four university centers showed reduced loan default rates, with an average of 3.4 percent, well below the national average of 7.6 percent;
  • The average default rates at SUNY’s comprehensive college was 5 percent, also below the 7.6 percent national average;
  • 23 SUNY community colleges showed reduced rates. SUNY community colleges show an average default rate of 15 percent, while the national average is 19 percent.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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