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Average Student Loan Debt Rises to $29,400

Christine DiGangi

The average student debt load is now nearly $30,000, according to a report from the Institute for College Access & Success. The report looks at the class of 2012: 71% of them had student loans and graduated with an average of $29,400 in debt.

It’s the sort of news no one likes to hear but isn’t surprising — nationwide, outstanding student loan debt is $1.2 trillion, and balance-per-class has been growing for years. For the class of 2011, the average was $26,600.

If you take for-profit colleges out of the equation, 2012 graduates with loans ended up with an average of $27,850 in debt. Though many graduates from for-profit institutions have education debt (88%), only nine of 584 for-profit, four-year colleges that grant bachelor’s degrees reported debt data on the class of 2012, so the report excludes for-profit colleges from its rankings of states and colleges with the highest/lowest graduate debt loads.

Those high-debt states tend to be concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest, and institutions whose students graduate with relatively low debt levels are mostly located in the South and the West.

The average student loan debt for graduates of Delaware institutions is $33,649, the highest average in the U.S. New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Rhode Island have the next highest averages. On the other end of the spectrum, graduates from New Mexico schools had an average of $17,994 in education debt. The next lowest averages came from California, Arizona, Nevada and Wyoming.

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