Statistics: Grads Leave With Low Debt, Strong Earning Potential
May 12, 2014
From left to right: New graduates Jacob Craft (finance), Nujeen Zibari (biology) and Duy-Anh (Tommy) Tran (computer science) are among the majority of UT Dallas students who are not carrying any college debt.
At a time when many college students and parents are focused on post-graduation employment prospects, the balance of earning power and low student debt among UT Dallas graduates is gaining notice in national rankings that focus on the best college values in the country.
With nearly 4,000 graduates earning their degrees from UT Dallas this week, most recent University survey statistics indicate that 84 percent of them will secure immediate employment or continue their education in graduate or professional schools.
A review of the University’s top five majors by enrollment – computer science, accounting, biology, electrical engineering and finance – indicates UT Dallas bachelor’s degree holders in those fields will find starting salaries averaging from $32,549 for biology, to $58,967 for computer science, to $61,156 for electrical engineering. Those who go on to medical training or master’s degrees will see yet higher salaries when they enter the job market.
This immediate earning potential and a very low percentage of students who carry any debt at all, at 36 percent compared to a national average of 71 percent, have earned the attention of both The Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. Each publication has ranked UT Dallas among the best college values for the past two years.
Those graduating with degrees in the University’s five most popular majors, which draw about 30 percent of the students on campus, say the encouraging statistics match their experiences.
For finance senior Jacob Craft, a job offer came a few months before his graduation this week from the Naveen Jindal School of Management. What began as an internship at a private equity firm in January quickly turned into a full-time job, with the company accommodating his class schedule as he finished his degree.
Craft graduated from high school at age 16 and ran his own business as a contractor for an asset management company for about five years, earning an associate’s degree from Collin College before transferring to UT Dallas in 2012. While at the University, he’s been heavily involved in campus activities, including the Financial Leadership Association.
“UT Dallas gave me the opportunity to come out of my shell,” Craft said. “I never dreamed I would learn as much as I did, not just from an academic standpoint but about life in general.
“The professors care about the students. For those students who are willing to apply themselves, there are so many resources at UT Dallas to utilize.”
Duy-Anh (Tommy) Tran, a computer science senior, also found success on the job as an undergraduate. He has participated in paid internships with major companies while he earned his bachelor’s degree, which includes a minor in enterprise systems. Although he’s confident of his full-time job prospects after graduation, Tran said he will take an additional year to finish a fast-track master’s degree in systems engineering and management at UT Dallas.
“My internships have been great on-the-job experiences, but they’ve also been very good for making professional contacts, which is important,” Tran said.
Craft and Tran are among the majority of UT Dallas students who will graduate with no student debt. In addition to the overall value rankings, U.S. News and World Report also recently gave high marks to the University for having such a low percentage of students with debt, as well as a low average debt for those who do borrow. For UT Dallas students who carry debt, the average is $17,516, compared to the national average of about $29,400.
Shown are the average first-year salaries of bachelor’s degree graduates from the University's top five majors, based on a survey by the UT Dallas Career Center. Many who pursue these fields earn graduate degrees before entering the workforce, which translates into higher average starting salaries.
UT Dallas President David E. Daniel said the reasons for lower debt among UT Dallas students lie in the University’s emphasis on timely graduation within four years, the quality of its students, a variety of financial aid and scholarship programs, and a healthy flow of transfer students from community colleges.
“Our University is well known as a destination for top-performing Texas students who often earn grants and scholarships that can reduce the cost of a UT Dallas education,” Daniel said. “In addition, we welcome students who choose to reduce costs by beginning their college experience at a community college before transferring to our campus to earn a degree.”
Biology senior Nujeen Zibari is also graduating without debt, which she said gives her a good start as she prepares for the next step in her education – medical studies at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Among her many campus activities, Zibari was president for two years of Delta Epsilon Iota, an academic honor society focused on career development and services such as resume building, mock interviews and networking.
“I worked in the Student Success Center for six semesters, so I developed my own leadership skills and also helped other students learn how to be successful,” Zibari said.
See more statistics and information related to UT Dallas alumni salaries and job prospects.
Dr. Karen de Olivares, director of the Health Professions Advising Center, counsels UT Dallas students like Zibari who are preparing for medical or dental school. She said there has been an increase in the number of applicants, and more slots have opened up as new medical schools have launched.
“UT Dallas students do very well,” in the application process, she said.
In 2013, about 72 percent of UT Dallas students who applied to medical or dental school were accepted. By comparison, about 33 percent of applicants to Texas public medical schools are accepted, de Olivares said.
Although the state and national conversations about higher education are often focused on the dollars-in-and-dollars-out equation, Zibari said salary was not a motivating factor in her choice to major in biology and pursue a career in pediatrics. She grew up very close to a cousin who had a rare, and ultimately fatal, medical condition.
“My father is a physician’s assistant, and when I was about 4, I asked him who takes care of my cousin,” Zibari recalled. “He said, ‘a kiddie doctor.’ I said, ‘Then I’ll be a kiddie doctor, so I can take care of him.’ I was accepted to medical school on my cousin’s birthday.
“Being a doctor has never been about the money for me. It’s about helping people.”