Study: CCU students have the highest student loan debt in SC

Coastal Carolinan University. Photo by Steve Jessmore
Coastal Carolinan University. Photo by Steve Jessmore The Sun News

Students at Coastal Carolina University are taking on more student loan debt than anyone else in the state, according to a recent study.

The study by LendEDU, an online resource for student-based financing, shows that students at Coastal Carolina University have some of the highest amounts of student loan debt in South Carolina at an average of $37,373 of debt per student.

Brianna Eischeid, a 21-year-old psychology major at Coastal, is one of them. She has a $30,000 private loan as well as around $13,000 in loans from Coastal that she’ll have to pay back.

“College is expensive,” the New Jersey native said. “Coastal isn’t a very expensive college, but even if I went to school in Jersey with in-state tuition, it’d still be very expensive.”

The numbers in the study are based off a voluntary financial aid survey of more than 1,000 schools nationwide looking at the average debt per borrower at each school.

Coastal’s $37,373 in average debt per borrower landed it at number 148 of the 250 schools with the highest average student debt in the U.S., beating out other South Carolina schools included in the study and exceeding the South Carolina average of $30,310 in debt per borrower.

Eischeid said her stepfather makes too much money for her to get help with financial aid, but she still has to pay for college herself and worked three jobs last year.

“Generally, what you want to do you first, is you want to do your financial aid and see if they’ll give you anything,” she said. “But most of the time you’ll end up with private loans because financial aid doesn’t really give you anything.”

The Coastal senior said she wasn’t surprised that the Conway-based school leads the state in the amount of student debt per borrower.

“Coastal has a high percentage of out-of-staters. Everyone I meet here is also from Jersey, P.A. or New York,” she said.

Coastal Carolina University does have the highest percentage of out-of-state students in South Carolina. They represent more than 40 percent of the student body, according to the South Carolina Commission for Higher Education. And at Coastal, out-of-state students pay more than double the in-state tuition.

According to Commission for Higher Education, a year of tuition and fees for in-state students at Coastal is $11,200. For an out-of-state student, that number goes up to $25,872.

Coastal did not respond to a request for comment.

Here’s how other South Carolina schools listed in the study rank:

Winthrop University: $36,147

Francis Marion University: $36,082

The Citadel: $32,039

Clemson: $30,201

University of South Carolina: $28,972

Columbia International University: $24,132

Newberry College: $22,380

Bob Jones University: $21,153

Coker College: $20,494

Nationwide, South Carolina is number 38 in states with the lowest student debt, and its average student debt is more than neighboring North Carolina at $26,164 and Georgia at $28,376.

Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian