Undergraduates who attended North Dakota institutions of higher education in 2018-19 received $ 120.4 million in federal loans, down 31% from the $ 174.1 million in 2008-2009, according to a report released this summer by the state’s university system. Figures exclude private and institutional loans.

The decline in federal loans correlates with the 2009 legislature’s efforts to increase financial assistance, according to the report. This included increasing needs-based grants by 227%, scholarships by 43% and the creation of other programs.

North Dakota schools also saw a 40% drop in borrowers, with 31,538 loans received in the 2008-09 school year to 18,878 in 2018-19, the most recent for which figures are available. Some borrowers may have been duplicated, depending on the university system.

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And although fewer students are borrowing overall, the average annual federal loan amount per borrower has increased from 2008-09 to 2018-19.

During this period, the average amount of North Dakota State University and North Dakota University increased by 3%, reaching $ 6,648 in 2018-19. Other four-year universities in the state jumped 36% to $ 6,267, and two-year schools rose 38% to $ 5,536, according to the report.

North Dakota appears to be following a national trend in global lending, according to figures from the nonprofit College Board. Students across the United States borrowed $ 106.2 billion last school year, down 16% from the 2009-10 tally of $ 126.6 billion. Federal loans accounted for over 88% of those numbers.

Minnesota does not track the total amount of loans that students attending public schools receive, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education said.

According to the University System report, students who graduated from North Dakota schools in 2019 had an average of $ 29,037 in student loan debt, down 1% from the previous year.

A number of factors likely contributed to the decline in federal lending, said Jeffrey Jacobs, director of financial aid and scholarships for the NDSU. While there is no solid data to show its impact, Jacobs noted the North Dakota Academic Scholarship.

This scholarship is $ 6,000 for students who have a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher, have no grade below C, and have an ACT score of 24 or higher, among other requirements for their academic career.

The Challenge Grant, which was created in 2012 to award $ 1 in public funds for every $ 2 raised in private donations for university projects, also made it easier to get more loans, Jacobs said.

Some North Dakota schools offer more scholarships, including the NDSU, Jacobs said. Since 2010, the NDSU Foundation has nearly tripled its annual scholarship amount to $ 6.29 million for the 2019-2020 school year.

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