> Average student debt: $28,783
> Pct. with student debt: 64% (tied for 15th highest)
> Pct. adults with bachelor’s degrees: 36.2% (4th highest)
> Median household income: $65,753 (4th highest)
Graduates of Connecticut universities in 2011 faced an average of 13% more debt, or nearly $3,500 worth, than those who graduated in 2010 from the state. This increase was the sixth-highest among all states. Sixty-three percent of 2011 graduates of the University of Connecticut faced an average debt load of $23,822. But prospective UConn students looking for a reprieve should not hold their breath. In Dec. 2011, the university’s trustees approved a four-year tuition hike to make up for declining state funding. Starting with a 6% increase for the current academic year, tuition is expected to increase by more than 6% every year through the 2016-2017 academic year.
4. Rhode Island
> Average student debt: $29,097
> Pct. with student debt: 69% (8th highest)
> Pct. adults with bachelor’s degrees: 31.1% (12th highest)
> Median household income: $53,636 (17th highest)
The average 2011 graduate from a Rhode Island college or university owed $29,097 in student debt, up more than 10% from the year before. Debt burdens were especially high for graduates of Salve Regina University — labeled a “high debt college” by TICAS — whose class of 2011 had an average of $43,237 in debt. Graduates of two other private schools, Bryant University and Roger Williams University, averaged more than $37,000 in debt. Students at all three universities owed at least 38% of this debt to nonfederal government sources, such as banks. There are some benefits to going to school in the state, however. At $50,327 per year, 2011 median earnings were higher for adult college graduates in Rhode Island than in more than 35 other states.
> Average student debt: $29,793
> Pct. with student debt:71% (5th highest)
> Pct. adults with bachelor’s degrees: 32.4% (10th highest)
> Median household income: $56,954 (11th highest)
Minnesota is just one of six states where more than 70% of graduates in 2011 had outstanding student loans. More than three in four 2011 graduates of Winona State University, a public university, faced debt, which averaged $31,275. Almost the same percentage of students graduating from University of Minnesota-Duluth faced an average debt load of $31,168. But those graduates were on better footing compared to graduates of the private Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In this school, 85% of 2011 graduates finished their studies $43,035 in the hole, on average, with 40% of that debt in the form of private loans.
> Average student debt: $29,959
> Pct. with student debt: 70% (7th highest)
> Pct. adults with bachelor’s degrees: 27.0% (24th highest)
> Median household income: $50,228 (23rd highest)
The average 2011 graduate in Pennsylvania finished college nearly $30,000 in debt, more than $3,000 above the U.S. student loan debt average of $26,600 and more than $1,000 more than the average 2010 graduate. In Pennsylvania State University the average student graduating in 2011 had $33,530 in debt. At Robert Morris University, the average graduate had $42,477 in student debt. In last year’s class, 70% of graduates had outstanding loans. At several schools, including Gannon University and Lycoming College, more than 90% of graduates had student loan debt.
1. New Hampshire
> Average student debt: $32,440
> Pct. with student debt: 75% (3rd highest)
> Pct. adults with bachelor’s degrees: 33.4% (8th highest)
> Median household income: $62,647 (6th highest)
New Hampshire is the only state where its 2011 graduates had more than $30,000 in average student loan debt. Eight in 10 students who graduated from the University of New Hampshire faced an average debt haul of $34,194. Despite the high level of debt, tuition continues to climb. The trustees voted to increase total costs by 6% after the school system lost nearly half of its roughly $100 million state funding in 2011. Despite the high level of debt for the recent UNH attendees, some private school graduates fared even worse. For instance, 85% of 2011 graduates from New England College had an average debt of $43,808, while 81% of Franklin Pierce College graduates were in the hole by an average of $44,702.
By Michael B. Sauter, Alexander E. M. Hess and Samuel Weigley