Which graduates are most likely to default on their loans?

Data shows that some programs are a sure bet


Certain American politicians are calling on private colleges to prove that their students will get jobs before the taxpayers lend those students money. That’s because recent statistics have shown that 25 per cent of private college student loans are defaulted-on within three years, compared to 11 per cent of loans to students at public non-profit schools.

The problem of defaults isn’t nearly as big in Canada. In fact, default rates have generally dropped in the past decade. That said, key performance indicator data from Ontario’s universities shows that defaults are a bigger problem for some graduates than others. In five programs, every single student was able to pay back their loans in 2009, indicating a healthy job market in those fields. But some programs had one in 20 graduates defaulting, indicating those grads have more trouble finding work. Here are the numbers, from  the most defaults to the least.

“Other” Arts and Science 7.0 per cent

Physical Science 5.7 per cent

Humanities 5.4 per cent

Social Sciences 4.9 per cent

Fine and Applied Arts 4.6 per cent

Theology 4.4 per cent

Kineseology and Physical Education 3.8 per cent

Nursing 3.1 per cent

Business and Commerce 3.0 per cent

Agriculture & Biological Science  2.7 per cent

Other Health Professions 2.6 per cent

Mathematics 2.6 per cent

Journalism 2.5 per cent

Computer Science 2.5 per cent

Law 2.4 per cent*

Architecture 2.1 per cent

Food Science and Nutrition 1.9 per cent

Engineering 1.7 per cent

Education 1.2 per cent

Therapy and Rehabilitation 0.3 per cent

Dentistry NONE

Forestry NONE

Medicine NONE

Optometry NONE

Veterinary Medicine NONE

* The figure for Law is skewed by a program at Algoma that had a default rate of 33 per cent.

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Which graduates are most likely to default on their loans?

  1. There is absolutely no way that 97% of graduates of Education programs in Ontario are being gainfully employed either 6 months or 2 years after graduation. This is a perfect example of the misuse of old data (the most recent listed is for 2006) and a selective sample (the data are derived from those graduates who agreed to complete a survey). It would also concern me if 98% of students who are originally admitted to an Education program ends up completing and earning a credential, as the data seem to suggest.

    If you are thinking of pursuing an Education credential, I would advise you not to rely on these data; instead, just talk to ANYONE who has recently graduated, or to anyone who works in the education system or teaches at a Faculty of Education, and they will tell you the truth about the current job market for graduates of B.Ed. programs, and it is NOT 97% employment upon graduation, and certainly not full time or in the field that they earned their credential in. I’m sure the same applies for many of the other data.

    Remember the old adaga: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

    • It is not saying that the B.Ed. graduates found jobs in education, simply that they were able to pay back their student loans. That meant they were able to find some sort of job. I personally know two individuals with B.Ed. degrees who are working for the federal government, for example. So they have jobs, they are just not jobs as teachers!

      B.Ed. degrees have a certain value beyond just teaching. Also, most (if not all) B.Ed. grads have another degree in a field related to their teaching specialty. No doubt some of those B.Ed. grads found jobs working in those fields (ie. someone with a B.Sc. and a B.Ed. could be working in a job related to the field of study of their B.Sc.)

  2. Richard

    Thanks for your comment.

    Just to be clear, I have not said that 97 per cent of graduates from B.Ed. programs are getting jobs as teachers, or even getting jobs at all.

    This story is simply about the fact that people who obtain degrees in certain areas are managing to pay back their loans more easily than others, which is at least partially a reflection of the job market in their chosen field. Also, the 2010 data set is not yet available but has been requested and will be posted as soon as it is.


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