University of Wisconsin students are increasingly graduating with either less overall student loan debt or no student loan debt at all.

Karla Weber, spokesperson for the Office of Student Financial Aid, said students have generally been borrowing more as the overall cost of college has gone up, so the decrease is a “big thing” for UW.

According to the news release, 53.4 percent of undergraduate students graduated in 2015-16 with no student loan debt — a 3 percent increase from the previous year.

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Additionally, the average amount of student loan debt students possessed when they graduated from UW in 2016 decreased from $28,768 to $28,255. This average falls below both the 2015 national average student loan debt of $30,100 and the 2015 Wisconsin average, which was $29,640.

Weber said this decrease in student loan debt allows students to spend more money on life expenses when they graduate.

“We want to do everything we can to not only keep the debt — to begin with — low, but also give them the tools to be able to repay it so that their credit stays healthy so that they can use their earnings for other things like buying cars and houses and being contributors to the general economy,” Weber said.

But many students still struggle to pay back their loans, Weber said. She said when students default, or do not pay back their loan, it can damage their credit.

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According to the release, the default rate for students at UW was 1.5 percent in 2012 and later decreased to 1.2 percent in 2013.

The default rates for UW students also fall below the 2013 national default rate of 11.3 percent and 2013 Wisconsin default rate of 9.6 percent.

Weber said OSFA has been doing small things such as working with targeted populations, and doing one-on-one advising with students to address issues related to student loan debt.

OSFA is working on developing larger programs for the upcoming year, Weber said. These programs will aim to keep student loan debt and the default rate low, she added.

“The biggest concern is really just making sure that any debt that a student takes on is manageable so that they’re able to make their monthly payments after they graduate,” Weber said.