Student-loan debt in the US has grown to a staggering $1.3 trillion, and the average 2016 graduate will have to repay more than $37,000.
While it’s clear that college is more expensive than ever, surprisingly, there’s a correlation between the amount a student pays for tuition and their SAT score.
“The data show a correlation between higher SAT scores and lower average student debt,” according to Nitro, which conducted the study. Nitro, an online resource that helps incoming college students plan their education financing, examined SAT scores, median student-loan debt at graduation, and median earnings 10 years after graduation at 1,300 colleges and universities.
The study found that students with higher SAT scores tend to graduate with less debt, and students with lower SAT scores tend to graduate with more debt.
They plotted the results on the interactive graph below, which also shows that higher SAT scores correlate to higher earning potential. Hover over the plot points for SAT scores.
If you take a look at the scatter plots, schools with median SAT scores on the higher end of the scale (represented by the blue-colored dots) did not fall in upper-left quadrant of the graph — those schools which had median student-loan debt of more than $30,000.
The school with the highest median student-loan debt on the graph is Livingstone College, a historically black college in North Carolina with an average SAT score of 720, and median student debt at graduation of $41,000.
The school with lowest average student debt on the graph is Berea College, a work college in Kentucky, with an average SAT score of 1125, and median student debt at graduation of $6,000.
Harvard University is the next in line with an average SAT score of 1501, and median student debt at graduation of $7,000.