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MA has 14th Largest Average Student Loan Debt in Country

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

 

Bay State college grads faced an average of over $27,000 in student loan debt in 2011, according to a report released last month by the Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS).

At $27,181, Massachusetts ranked 14th in the nation for highest average debt for college graduates. A full 65 percent of the Commonwealth's students graduated with loans still to be paid off, earning Massachusetts the 12th spot when it comes to the proportion of students carrying debt after college.

High-debt states remain concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest, with low-debt states mainly in the West and South. New Hampshire had the highest average debt at $32,450, and Rhode Island was not far behind in 4th place at $29,097. Connecticut came in 5th at $28,783, and Vermont had the 8th highest average debt at $28,273. The only New England state whose average debt level for 2011 college graduates was lower than Massachusetts was Maine, which placed 18th with $26,046.

Overall, the Bay State came in above the nataional average in the TICAS report. Students who borrowed for college and earned bachelor’s degrees in 2011 graduated with an average $26,600 in student loan debt, up from $25,250 in 2010. This five-percent increase is similar to the average annual increase in recent years. The report also found that about two-thirds of the Class of 2011 had loans, and that private (non-federal) student loans comprised about one-fifth of what they owed.

“In these tough times, a college degree is still your best bet for getting a job and decent pay,” said TICAS President Lauren Asher. “But, as debt levels rise, fear of loans can prevent students from getting the education they need to succeed. Students and parents need to know that, even at similar looking schools, debt levels can be wildly different. And, if they do need to borrow to get through school, federal student loans, with options like income-based repayment, are the safest way to go.”

Actual state averages are likely higher than these estimates, which are based on data reported voluntarily by about half of all public and private nonprofit four-year colleges. These colleges enrolled about four in five 2011 graduates in their combined sectors nationwide.

“Voluntarily reported data is all that we’ve got to shed light on how debt at graduation varies from school to school and year to year. Students need reliable information for all schools, and colleges that consistently and accurately provide their own debt figures deserve a level playing field,” said the report’s primary author Matthew Reed.

“Twelve percent of the colleges that reported debt data for 2010 didn’t report for 2011, and virtually no for-profit colleges reported at all. The need for federal collection of key debt information at all colleges could not be more clear.” 

 

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