Average Student Debt Continues to Rise at Non-Profit Schools

Posted By Eliana Osborn on November 27, 2015 at 10:33 am
Average Student Debt Continues to Rise at Non-Profit Schools

The Institute for College Access and Success has a new report out and it doesn’t look good for recent college graduates.  Their average debt load has increased by more than half over the past ten years, including a 2% jump since last year.

The Project on Student Debt tracks state-by-state levels of private and federally backed student loans.  For 2014 grads, the national average is just under $29,000 in loans held by 69% of students.  The lowest debt states are those in the west, with Utah and New Mexico at the bottom at less than $19,000.  New England states like Rhode Island, Delaware, and New Hampshire have the highest amount of debt for graduates, topping out past $33,000.

More than 1,000 schools participated in the TICAS report, the latest installation of their yearly findings.  Private loans make up 18% of total loans, less than in previous years.  The amount of debt varied significantly between schools; twenty had averages under $14,000 while more than 150 institutions were over $35,000.

Inside Higher Education summarizes the student loan findings this way.  “While inflation has increased by 25 percent over that decade, the average student debt burden has grown by 56 percent, to $28,950 from $18,550.”  As tuition has risen since 2004, so too has debt.

One drawback of the TICAS report is the lack of data about debt levels of students at for-profit colleges and universities.  These schools are unwilling to share information on a voluntary basis.  Many other reports have found student loan amounts to be highest at these schools, which could change the averages.

TICAS president Lauren Asher said in a press release, “Student debt has rightly become a major policy issue. Students and families need better information and better policies to make college more affordable and debt less burdensome.”

A plan for a college scorecard, proposed by the Obama administration, would be a step forward in making it easier for students to compare loan amounts across schools.  As it stands, tuition information isn’t always clear when discounts and grants are factored in.

Delaware and Maryland are two states where student loan debt levels have more than doubled in the past ten years.  No matter where a college is located, knowing the debt other students have accrued before you can be part of making an informed financial decision.  TICAS will continue collecting data to serve new borrowers.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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