Metro

Mass. college grads have lowest student loan default rate in nation

Graduates of Massachusetts colleges and universities have the lowest student loan default rate in the nation, according to new figures released by the US Department of Education.

The official default rate for the more than 101,000 Massachusetts federal student loan borrowers who entered repayment in fiscal year 2012 was 6.4 percent. The second lowest statewide rate was North Dakota’s, at 6.6 percent.

The state with the highest default rate was New Mexico at 20 percent.

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The official default rate nationwide fell almost two percentage points to 11.8 percent. The drop was seen across public, private, and for-profit institutions.

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“The Obama Administration has taken historic steps to give borrowers more options to manage their student debt and stay on track to repayment and to hold institutions accountable for improving student outcomes,” said US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement.

National default rates among students who attended private schools were lower than those at public schools, according to the department’s figures. They were also generally lower at four-year institutions.

The federal agency looked at students who entered repayment during fiscal 2012 and defaulted by the end of fiscal 2014.

Among private colleges represented by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, the default rate was 3.7 percent, according to the association.

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“This demonstrates the commitment of Massachusetts private colleges to prepare their students to enter the workforce with manageable student loan obligations,” said Richard Doherty, president of the association, in a statement.

“Our colleges and universities put tremendous emphasis on investing in their students through financial aid and helping them fully understand the obligations of their loans,” he said.

Student default rates across the US

Official three-year federal student loan cohort default rate for students who entered repayment in fiscal year 2012

DATA: US Department of Education

Globe Staff

Catherine Cloutier can be reached at catherine.cloutier@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @cmcloutier.