2010 graduates carry all-time-high student loan debt

college grad

You may rock, but you also owe. Image: stampendous/Flickr/CC BY-ND

Students who graduated college in 2010 owe an average of 5  percent more for their student loans than those who graduated the year before. The findings were released Thursday in a report from the Institute for College Access & Success Project on Student Debt. According to the report, 2010 college graduates owed, on average, $25,250 when they received their diplomas last year.

Varies according to state

The debt varied according to state, said the report. In Utah, the average debt was $15,509, whereas in New Hampshire it was a staggering $31,048.

Non-profit schools examined

The report examined student loan data from 1,000 public and private non-profit four-years schools. Not-for-profit schools were the focus of the report since only five of the nation’s 471 for-profit colleges — such as DeVry University and Capella University —  released student loan data for their 2010 graduates.

About two-thirds of 2010 graduates carried student loans, the report said. In the absence of data from for-profit universities, the study pointed to a separate study from the Department of Education that showed 96 percent of students who graduated from for-profit schools in 2008 carried student debt.

According to the New York Times, “the average amount of debt would be even higher” if for-profit schools had been included in the study.

“Almost all students take out loans,” the New York Times reported, “And, according to federal data, (students at for-profit schools) borrow about 45 percent more than students at nonprofits.”

Economy and rising tuition blamed

The economic downturn and rising tuition costs are to blame for the loan hikes, according to the report. Fewer students receive assistance from their parents, who are also struggling with the tough economy.

“Most students in the Class of 2010 started college before the recent economic downturn,” the report stated, “but the economy soured while they were still in school, widening the gap between rising college costs and what students and their parents could afford.”

High unemployment

Last year’s college graduates also left school to face some of the highest unemployment rates in recent history — about 9.1 percent. The unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is even higher. It was 14.7 percent in September.


Daily Finance 
Project Student Debt


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