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 year
Photo: UpperCut Images | Getty Images

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


10. Ohio

$25,842 66% Bowling Green State University—Main Campus Cleveland Institute of ArtArt students, by all means follow your passion. But just know that if you choose to attend the Cleveland Institute of Art, the class of 2009 left with a whopping $61,270 in debt. That’s 2.4 times the state average, and 2.1 times that of Bowling Green. Buy hey, you’re art students. You never expected to be rich anyway, right?
Photo: Cleveland Art, Wikipedia

Average Student Debt: $25,842
% of Students Leaving With Debt: 66%
School With Highest Student Debt (Public): Bowling Green State University—Main Campus
School With Highest Student Debt (Private): Cleveland Institute of Art

Art students, by all means follow your passion. But just know that if you choose to attend the Cleveland Institute of Art, the class of 2009 left with a whopping $61,270 in debt. That’s 2.4 times the state average, and 2.1 times that of Bowling Green. Buy hey, you’re art students. You never expected to be rich anyway, right?


9. Alaska

$26,344 53% University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Pacific UniversityOK, we have to cut Alaska Pacific a break here, as it’s the only private, nonprofit, four-year institution in the state. Hence the asterisk. Still, the APU class of 2009 left with $43,392 in debt, about double the state average. What about UofA—Fairbanks? $29,485 a person.
Photo: Alaska Pacific, ppg.com

Average Student Debt: $26,344
% of Students Leaving With Debt: 53%
School With Highest Student Debt (Public): University of Alaska Fairbanks
School With Highest Student Debt (Private): Alaska Pacific University

OK, we have to cut Alaska Pacific a break here, as it’s the only private, nonprofit, four-year institution in the state. Hence the asterisk. Still, the APU class of 2009 left with $43,392 in debt, about double the state average. What about UofA—Fairbanks? $29,485 a person.


8. Rhode Island

$26,573 65% University of Rhode Island Bryant UniversityBryant and its $38,270 in average debt per student beats even Brown University, whose graduates from 2009 carry almost $22,000. Another stat worth noting: Seventy-five percent of Bryant grads leave with debt versus Brown’s 41 percent. Of course, Brown may have a bigger endowment, which allows it to give more non-loan financial aid to its students. There are a lot of factors—student demographics, state policies, local cost of living—that ex
Photo: Bryant University, Wikipedia

Average Student Debt: $26,573
% of Students Leaving With Debt: 65%
School With Highest Student Debt (Public): University of Rhode Island
School With Highest Student Debt (Private): Bryant University

Bryant and its $38,270 in average debt per student beats even Brown University, whose graduates from 2009 carry almost $22,000. Another stat worth noting: Seventy-five percent of Bryant grads leave with debt versus Brown’s 41 percent. Of course, Brown may have a bigger endowment, which allows it to give more non-loan financial aid to its students. There are a lot of factors—student demographics, state policies, local cost of living—that explain why students at certain colleges struggle with higher debt loads.


7. Pennsylvania

$27,066 72% Lincoln University of Pennsylvania La Roche CollegeLike Rhode Island, the private institution in Pennsylvania that leaves students with the most debt, La Roche at $34,408, bests the state’s resident Ivy League school, University of Pennsylvania. Holders of Bachelor’s degrees from UPenn walk away with just $17,787 in loans to pay. They are also more likely to leave with no debt at all. Just 41 percent do, compared with 78 percent for La Roche.
Photo: La Roche College, laroche.edu

Average Student Debt: $27,066
% of Students Leaving With Debt: 72%
School With Highest Student Debt (Public): Lincoln University of Pennsylvania
School With Highest Student Debt (Private): La Roche College

Like Rhode Island, the private institution in Pennsylvania that leaves students with the most debt, La Roche at $34,408, bests the state’s resident Ivy League school, University of Pennsylvania. Holders of Bachelor’s degrees from UPenn walk away with just $17,787 in loans to pay. They are also more likely to leave with no debt at all. Just 41 percent do, compared with 78 percent for La Roche.


6. Minnesota

$27,467 73% Minnesota State University—Moorhead Minneapolis College of Art and DesignArt school strikes again. Want to study sculpture, photography or comic art at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design? Be prepared to shoulder the highest student debt in the state, as 2009 grads are well on their way to paying off $42,346 in loans.
Photo: Minnesota State University—Moorhead, Wikipedia

Average Student Debt: $27,467
% of Students Leaving With Debt: 73%
School With Highest Student Debt (Public): Minnesota State University—Moorhead
School With Highest Student Debt (Private): Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Art school strikes again. Want to study sculpture, photography or comic art at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design? Be prepared to shoulder the highest student debt in the state, as 2009 grads are well on their way to paying off $42,346 in loans.


5. Vermont

$27,786 63% University of Vermont Green Mountain CollegeThe Northeast is heavily represented in this list, with two-thirds of New England—Vermont included—among the top 10. Only Connecticut and Massachusetts aren’t here. They’re numbers 14 and 15, respectively. For continuity’s sake, here’s the skinny on Vermont’s two highest-student-debt institutions: UVM grads left school in 2009 with $27,696, while Green Mountain College kids will be paying back $39,862.
Photo: University of Vermont, Wikipedia

Average Student Debt: $27,786
% of Students Leaving With Debt: 63%
School With Highest Student Debt (Public): University of Vermont
School With Highest Student Debt (Private): Green Mountain College

The Northeast is heavily represented in this list, with two-thirds of New England—Vermont included—among the top 10. Only Connecticut and Massachusetts aren’t here. They’re numbers 14 and 15, respectively. For continuity’s sake, here’s the skinny on Vermont’s two highest-student-debt institutions: UVM grads left school in 2009 with $27,696, while Green Mountain College kids will be paying back $39,862.


4. Iowa

$28,883 74% Iowa State University University of DubuqueThere are a number of states here with a percentage of students leaving with debt very close to Iowa—Pennsylvania with 72 percent; Minnesota with 73 percent; and New Hampshire with 72 percent—but Iowa is the highest with 74 percent. Iowa State at 71 percent is near that, but the University of Dubuque is much higher at 85 percent.
Photo: Iowa State, Wikipedia

Average Student Debt: $28,883
% of Students Leaving With Debt: 74%
School With Highest Student Debt (Public): Iowa State University
School With Highest Student Debt (Private): University of Dubuque

There are a number of states here with a percentage of students leaving with debt very close to Iowa—Pennsylvania with 72 percent; Minnesota with 73 percent; and New Hampshire with 72 percent—but Iowa is the highest with 74 percent. Iowa State at 71 percent is near that, but the University of Dubuque is much higher at 85 percent.


3. Maine

$29,143 65% Maine Maritime Academy Saint Joseph's College of MaineHere’s another New Englander with high student-debt loads. The Maine Maritime Academy left its class of 2009 with an average of $39,237. For those who went to Saint Joe’s, it was $36,071.
Photo: Maine Maritime Academy, Wikipedia

Average Student Debt: $29,143
% of Students Leaving With Debt: 65%
School With Highest Student Debt (Public): Maine Maritime Academy
School With Highest Student Debt (Private): Saint Joseph's College of Maine

Here’s another New Englander with high student-debt loads. The Maine Maritime Academy left its class of 2009 with an average of $39,237. For those who went to Saint Joe’s, it was $36,071.


2. New Hampshire

$29,443 72% University of New Hampshire—Main Campus Saint Anselm CollegeWondering why New England has four of the top 10 spots on this list? It’s because both private and public four-year colleges in the Northeast have higher-than-average tuition, according to the Project on Student Debt. And a larger-than-average share of students in the Northeast attend private, nonprofit, four-year colleges. New Hampshire students will leave with a bit more debt than the state average if they attend UNH’s ma
Photo: Saint Anselm, Wikipedia

Average Student Debt: $29,443
% of Students Leaving With Debt: 72%
School With Highest Student Debt (Public): University of New Hampshire—Main Campus
School With Highest Student Debt (Private): Saint Anselm College

Wondering why New England has four of the top 10 spots on this list? It’s because both private and public four-year colleges in the Northeast have higher-than-average tuition, according to the Project on Student Debt. And a larger-than-average share of students in the Northeast attend private, nonprofit, four-year colleges. New Hampshire students will leave with a bit more debt than the state average if they attend UNH’s main campus, though: $30,760. The number, of course, is higher for Saint Anselm, a private school: $36,823.


1. District of Columbia

$30,033 51% University of the District of Columbia Corcoran College of Art and DesignAgain, let’s go easy on the University of D.C., as it’s the only public, four-year school in the district. And students in 2009 left UDC with just $17,547 in debt, significantly less of a burden than the average. What about the Corcoran College of Art and Design? $42,355.
Photo: Corcoran College of Art and Design, Ron Roberson

Average Student Debt: $30,033
% of Students Leaving With Debt: 51%
School With Highest Student Debt (Public): University of the District of Columbia
School With Highest Student Debt (Private): Corcoran College of Art and Design

Again, let’s go easy on the University of D.C., as it’s the only public, four-year school in the district. And students in 2009 left UDC with just $17,547 in debt, significantly less of a burden than the average. What about the Corcoran College of Art and Design? $42,355.


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Watch "Price of Admission: America's College Debt Crisis" on Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 9PM ET.