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States With the Highest Student Debt

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States With Highest Student Debt

In the U.S., a college education is largely viewed as an essential step to success, but it comes at quite a cost.

According to the Project on Student Debt, an initiative of the Institute for College Access & Success in Oakland, Calif., the class of 2009 left school with an average debt per student of $24,000. That was up 6 percent from the year before, which is a similar average annual increase to the previous four years, even despite the market crashes and economic downturns of the past few years.

So if you do choose to go to college, where are you likely to accrue the most debt? The Project on Student Debt pulled together some numbers to figure it out. What follows is a rundown of their findings, including the states with the highest average student debt, the percentage of students leaving with debt, as well as the public and private institutions in each state with the highest average student debt. It’s certainly worth a look as either you, or your kids, consider where to spend four potentially crucial years of your life. And it should help you decide how college will impact the years after.

A quick note on those numbers: The Project on Student Debt licensed and used data for the graduating class of 2009 from Peterson’s, a publisher of college guides that conducts its own annual survey of colleges, and that survey includes questions about student debt. In the end, though, the survey is voluntary, which is why only 1,065 of the 1,913 public and private nonprofit four-year colleges in the U.S. that granted bachelor’s degrees during the 2008-09 year reported figures.

This, of course, will play some role is where certain states rank on this list. But so, too, do endowment resources available for financial aid, student demographics, the number of private, higher-tuition schools in the area, local cost of living, etc. Therefore, the data here is still relevant and worthy of consideration, as long as readers bear this in mind. For more information on the Project on Student Debt and its report, visit projectonstudentdebt.org.

Posted 15 Dec 2010

Photo: UpperCut Images | Getty Images