Study: Utahns carry least college debt; Dixie State graduates among lowest debt-carriers

At Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, April 6, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The average college student’s debt is lower in Utah than anywhere else in the country, according to researchers with WalletHub.

Among Utah’s institutions of higher learning, St. George-based Dixie State University ranked least expensive, which has equated to students graduating with low debt.

DSU presently costs undergraduates $4,680 annually for two full-time semesters, based on information provided by university Public Relations Coordinator Stacy Schmidt.

Last fall, 9,950 students attended DSU, Schmidt said.

So affordable is DSU, roughly 73% of its students, or their families, refrain from borrowing a federal student loan, according to figures provided by J.D. Robertson, executive director of Financial Aid & Scholarships.

That is a strikingly high rate of federal loan-free students, compared to the national average, which saw roughly 69% of college students take out student loans in 2018, according to, which compiled statistics gathered by researcher Mark Kantrowitz, the U.S. Federal Reserve and Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Among the minority of DSU students who secured a federal student loan, their average borrow was $6,195, Robertson said.

“As the most affordable university in the state of Utah, Dixie State University provides a tremendous value to our students,” DSU President Richard “Biff” Williams said. “We offer a quality educational experience that prepares our students for successful careers, and we rank 13th in the nation for lowest average student debt.”

Dixie State University President Richard “Biff” Williams at the 2019 Presidential Awards Ceremony held at the university, St. George, Utah, April 18, 2019 | File photo courtesy of Dixie State University, St. George News

The No. 13 ranking that Williams referenced compared all colleges and universities nationwide.

In recent years, students at Brigham Young University graduated with the least amount of debt nationally, with $15,158 on average, according to a Deseret News article citing past data compiled by Beginning this fall, two full-time semesters at BYU will cost a mere $5,790 for students who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Only 26 percent of students from BYU graduated with debt,” the article states.

DSU was not far behind, with students graduating with approximately $15,882 in debt.

Americans own a whopping $1.56 trillion in student debt loan, and the average college student will graduate owing close to $30,000, according to

In WalletHub’s rankings of lightest debt loan burden, Utah beat out Hawaii, California and Wyoming for top honors. The complete student debt rankings are available at WalletHub’s website.

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