Student Debt And Unemployment On The Rise

Compiled By Staff
December 3, 2009

A new survey released this week indicates that student debt is growing while the job market for graduates is worsening.

According to The Project on Student Debt, the average debt among graduating seniors was $23,200 last year--up from $18,650 in 2004. Government records indicate that about two-thirds of students graduate with student loans.

"Both state and federal policy-makers need to think about the implications of a generation of college graduates paying off student loans instead of buying houses, starting businesses or saving for retirement," noted Lauren Asher, president of The Project on Student Debt, who was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The survey indicated that students attending college in the Northeast were more likely to accrue higher debt than those enrolled in institutions on the West Coast. The Christian Science Monitor explains that this is because students in the Northeast are more likely to attend private colleges and pricier state schools. In the West, meanwhile, students prefer to attend the less expensive public universities.

Debt levels varied widely among institutions. At Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky, for example, the average 2008 student debt was under $5,000. Meanwhile, St. Louis College of Pharmacy in Missouri reported an average student debt of $105,576.

The states with the lowest student debt level were Utah ($13,041) and Hawaii ($15,156). The areas with the highest levels were Washington, D.C. ($29,973) and Iowa ($28,174). The Wall Street Journal notes that Iowa's high level may reflect some schools' involvement with student loan scandals in recent years, according to Asher.

But the numbers very likely understate the debt significantly because they do not take into account credit card debt, home equity lines of credit or private loans which parents take out.

"It shows just how high a hurdle we build for students and families figuring out how much college is going to cost," noted Asher in The Wall Street Journal. "And at a time when the answer to that question is more important than ever."

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