CU area ranked eighth-best place to live for college grads

The Champaign-Urbana area was ranked the eighth best location for students to start their lives after graduation, according to RewardExpert’s 2018 Best and Worst Cities for Millennials with Student Debt.

Lincoln, Nebraska, was ranked first, followed by La Crosse-Onalaska, a city on the Wisconsin-Minnesota border.

RewardExpert is a free web service that provides students with tools and features for finance and spending. The report is intended to help recent graduates decide where to start their careers.

The ranking looks into the area’s job and housing market, business climate and overall environment where there are opportunities to get ahead professionally and to reduce debt quickly.

Rowan Tepper, senior analyst at RewardExpert, said in an email there is a correlation between being a college town and being a good place to live for young adults, because colleges serve as economic and cultural hubs and are major employers of young adults with degrees, especially in education and research.

“I think it depends on your route. I plan on going to medical school, so I probably wouldn’t settle here,” said Saahithya Gowrishankar, freshman in LAS.

Dylan Gray, freshman in Media, said he has been to five or six other colleges and thinks the University has a good environment for professionalism, but the experiences of some teaching assistants seem to show that other schools are more preferable.

Oviya Sougoumarane, freshman in LAS, said she wanted an environment that was not in a big city and preferred a more student-friendly place like Champaign-Urbana when applying to colleges.

“Larger cities, despite their employment and advancement advantages, do not appear on our list due to the high burden of housing and other cost-of-living expenses,” Tepper said. “Paying a high rent along with your monthly loans can be a challenge for those just starting out.”

Tepper said even if a city does not appear in the list’s top 10, it does not necessarily mean it is a bad choice.

“None of this should prejudice students against taking a chance in a big city. It’s just riskier,” Tepper said. “With risk, however, rewards may follow.”

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