Gawker: University of Minnesota has 5th highest total student debt load

swamysk via Flickr

Now why did I go to school?

From the Take-This-With-a-Grain-of-Salt-Department:

I just got Gawker's Top Ten Universities for Student Debt list forwarded by a colleague.

Before you keep reading ...

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It's an interesting list, but limited in its usefulness, as it appears to be fairly raw data:

1) New York University: $659 million

2) University of Southern California: $631 million

3) Penn State University: $590 million

4) Ohio State University: $560 million

5) University of Minnesota: $495 million

6) Arizona State University: $479 million

7) University of Texas: $474 million

8) Michigan State University: $433 million

9) Indiana University- Purdue University: $421 million

10) Rutgers: $398 million

It ranked the nonprofit institutions according to total student debt load. As it mentions toward the bottom of the article: Clearly, big schools will have bigger debt loads.

It stops its "number crunching" there, and tells those interested in more illuminating numbers -- per-student debt figures -- to "see the linked source material."

Looking at the Cumulative Four-Year Repayment Rate by Institution section it refers to, I compared the numbers on the Median Federal Debt For Those Entering Repayment column and saw that the U doesn't seem to have such a high rank anymore.

Just this week, US News & World Report released its Debt Load -- Class of 2009 list, and the U of M was nowhere to be found -- not even on the regional rankings. The only Minnesota college that placed was College of St. Scholastica (2nd among Midwest regional universities), which apparently had 81% of its graduates holding debt, the average amount being $40,401.

But I've just been eyeballing the Gawker list, and I'm the last person to claim to know the right methodology.

Does anyone know whether Gawker's list holds water?