ORONO, MAINE -- 05/09/2015 - A graduate with their debt amount on their hat makes her way to the stage to receive her diploma during the 150th anniversary year graduation at the University of Maine in Orono Saturday. Credit: Ashley L. Conti | BDN

How well did your college prepare you for a job that then helped you repay your school loans? And how much, exactly, did the college itself contribute to your future success (not your own academic preparedness)?

Recently we published details from the Brookings Institution about which colleges are likely to increase your career earnings the most. Graduates’ federal loan repayment rates were part of the calculation.

As Brookings emphasizes, the question is not simply about how many students successfully make loan payments after graduation but how well the school prepares them to perform in the workforce and be able to repay their loans.

For example, students from wealthier families are more likely to earn more money after college compared with their lower-income peers; so Brookings controlled for wealth and other characteristics, such as academic ability.

It set up a model to predict what a school’s loan payment rates should be based on a college’s student characteristics, local cost of living and the types of degrees offered. Then it compared those rates with the percentage of students who actually were current on their loans within the first three years of graduation.

“The difference between predicted loan repayment and actual repayment is what we call the college’s ‘value-added,’ or its economic contribution to students,” wrote one of the researchers, Jonathan Rothwell.

What are the characteristics of colleges that add more value toward loan repayments?

“Colleges with the highest value-added with respect to repayment (meaning default rates are less than predicted) tend to retain and graduate students at high rates, offer high-value curricula, and award generous financial support. These factors predict higher or lower default rates across institutions,” according to the Brookings report.

The colleges in Maine that add value with respect to federal student loan repayment are Bowdoin, Bates and Colby colleges, the University of New England, the University of Maine and the University of Maine at Farmington.

University of Southern Maine does not appear to contribute to graduates’ ability to repay their loans. University of Maine at Augusta graduates repay their loans at a rate below what is predicted based on the characteristics of the school and students.

Here is the full list of Maine schools that Brookings was able to analyze:

The influence of Maine colleges and universities on their students' ability to repay school loans.
The influence of Maine colleges and universities on their students’ ability to repay school loans. Credit:
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Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda is the editor of Maine Focus, a team that conducts journalism investigations and projects at the Bangor Daily News. She also writes for the newspaper, often centering her work on domestic and...