Keeping Student Debt Low: What WWU Is Doing, What You Can Do

August 25, 2019 | Education | Cassie Ragenovich

Walla Walla University has launched a Smart Debt Student initiative to give families more resources to help them reduce student debt.

While the average educational debt for WWU students who have taken out loans has been 16% below the national average — and the number of WWU students who graduate debt-free is on the rise — we are intensifying our focus on helping students avoid or minimize student debt.

How WWU Is Helping Students Reduce Debt

While we realize student loans are necessary for some, we see educational debt as something to be considered only after our students have gotten the most out of grants, scholarships and work programs.

1. We offer substantial scholarships that don’t have to be paid back, like:

  • Academic achievement — up to $48,000 over four years.
  • Out-of-area grant — up to $8,000 over four years.
  • Church match — WWU matches dollar-for-dollar up to $2,000 each year.

2. We also have generous need-based aid programs to help students fund their college education.

3. Our robust work program helps students get jobs on and off campus.

4. We’ve increased our efforts to counsel our students about debt — including regular review of their loans, monitoring debt levels, helping them identify debt-reduction strategies and encouraging students to index their debt levels to future earnings based on their field of study.

5. For the last 10 years, WWU has held tuition increases around 2% — less than half of the national average of 5% per year.

Four Ways to Reduce Student Debt

Many families would be surprised to see what is possible when parents, students and WWU all work together to reduce debt.

1. Work full-time in the summer and part-time during the school year. This can reduce debt by as much as $32,000 over four years.

2. Graduate in four years. Graduating in five years can increase your costs by 26% and graduating in six years can increase your costs by 53%. That’s why WWU offers student success and retention programs to help students graduate in four years — and why it’s important for students to take steps early to decide on a major.

3. Consider public service loan-forgiveness programs that repay student loans.

4. Prioritize making the recommended family contribution. These numbers are determined by the government when you apply for aid, not by WWU, and are based on what parents in similar financial situations are contributing to their child’s college education.

For more tips on keeping costs down, visit or call a WWU financial counselor at 800-656-2815 or 509-527-2815. Learn more at We are always happy to help you create a smart plan for financing your education.