Average Student Debt is $29,400 and Climbing

Daryl Cagle / Cagle Cartoons
Those who graduated from college in the class of 2012 are sitting on a whopping average of $29,400 in student debt, according to a new report released today from The Institute for College Access and Success’s Project on Student Debt

Student debt in the U.S. is large. So large in fact that since 2010, student loan debt topped credit card debt in the country, and in 2012 surpassed the $1 trillion mark. Based on TICAS findings, the student debt load is still growing. Seventy-one percent of students who graduated in 2012 left school with loan debt, up from 68 percent in 2008. In that same span of time, student debt rose by an average of six percent every year. 

Black students are more likely than their white counterparts and other students of color to graduate with high debt loads. According to a 2010 College Board study, almost one-third of black students graduated with $30,000 in debt, compared with 16 percent of white students.

And in a rough economy, it doesn’t take much for students to default. What’s more, umanageable debt loads are not evenly distributed across the higher education spectrum. For-profit colleges, where students of color and black students in particular are disproportionately concentrated, are much more likely to to send students away with high debt that graduates cannot repay. Of the more than 600,000 students with federal student loans who entered into repayment in 2010 and defaulted in 2012, 46 percent of them had gone to for-profit colleges. More than one in five for-profit college students default on their student loans, compared with the 13 percent of public college students and 8 percent of private, non-profit college students.

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