Average student debt load has increased 5% over last year, and now sits at $26,600, according to a report released Oct. 18 by nonprofit The Institute for College Access and Success. The 5% increase is about the average the organization has seen in the seven years of doing the report.
An estimated 66% of college seniors who graduated in 2011 hold student loan debt, the study found. About one-fifth of the average student’s debt is made up of private loans.
Depending on the state in which a student attends school, he/she may be likely to carry more or less than the average debt load. Students in New Hampshire have the highest debt load, averaging $32,440. Students in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Rhode Island all average more than $29,000 in debt, and Connecticut students have the fifth-highest average debt, at $28,783. All of the top 10 states with the highest debt load are in the northeast and Midwest.
Students in Utah average the least amount of college loan debt, at $17,227, followed by students in Hawaii, California, Arizona, and Nevada, who all average less than $20,000 in debt. All of the 10 lowest-debt states are in the south and west regions.
More 2011 graduates in North Dakota carried debt than graduates in any other state, at 83%. Graduates in South Dakota (76%,) New Hampshire (75%,) Iowa (72%,) Maine, and Minnesota (71%) are also more likely to graduate with debt than students in other states. States with the fewest students in debt include Hawaii (38%,) Nevada (44%,) Utah (45%,) Louisiana (46%,) and Wyoming (47%.) Alaska, Delaware, and New Mexico were not included because the usable cases of student debt data made up less than 30% of bachelor’s degree recipients.
The report also examined debt loads at different colleges. A list of well-known colleges with high average debt loads includes Bowling Green State University, Pennsylvania State University, Nova Southeastern University, and New England College, based on data submitted by each college.
Low-debt colleges include California State University’s Bakersfield and Sacramento campuses; Princeton University; Yale University; and Hunter College and York College of the City University of New York system.
Information from private for-profit colleges was not included in the report because fewer than 2% of the for-profit four-year colleges granted bachelor’s degrees during that time; they rarely respond to the survey; and the most recent nationally representative data shows that 96% of all for-profit graduates took out student loans, borrowing 45% more than graduates of other types of four-year colleges.