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NU scores well on risk-reward index

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A new report says Northwestern University is in the top five percent of schools in terms of how manageable student debt levels are for recent graduates.

The study by LendEDU compares the average earnings of recent recipients of bachelor's degrees from various schools to the average student loan debt level carried by those graduates and uses that to create an indicator of the risk a school's graduates will end up unable to pay off their loans.

Northwestern is ranked 33 among 1,004 schools in the study, with an average salary for recent graduates of $56,300 and an average debt load of $18,864.

The school could rank even higher on future editions of the report, given plans announed by NU last week to eliminate loans for incoming undergraduate students.

The salary data used in the LendEDU report comes from surveys conducted by PayScale.com, which ranks Northwestern 52nd for mid-career earnings at an average of $102,000 a year and 65th for earnings of recent graduates.

The average pay figures are heavily influenced by the percentage of graduates from a school with STEM — science, technology, engineering or mathematics — degrees.

Just 23 percent of Northwestern graduates participating in the survey said they had degrees in those fields — and only a handful of higher-ranked schools had a lower percentage of STEM degree recipients.

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