Average Student Debt Hits $30,000 for Class of 2015

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A student who graduates with $30,000 in debt could take years to pay it off, or may not pay it off at all, falling into default. According to the Institute for College Access & Success, that is the average amount for students who graduated in 2015.

For some students, the problem was much worse:

Nationally, about seven in 10 (68%) college seniors who graduated from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2015 had student loan debt, a similar share as in 2014. These borrowers owed an average of $30,100, up four percent from the 2014 average of $28,950. At the college level, average debt at graduation ranged from $3,000 to $53,000.

Debt fell into two categories, with one usually better for graduates:

Carrying nonfederal loans can significantly affect borrowers’ ability to repay what they owe because such loans typically have higher costs than federal loans and provide little, if any, relief for struggling borrowers. Debt figures reported by colleges suggest that almost one-fifth (19%) of 2015 graduates’ debt is comprised of nonfederal education loans, similar to recent years.

And debt levels varied substantially by state. In New Hampshire, the figure was $36,101. In Pennsylvania it was $34,498 and in Connecticut, $34,773.

At the other end of the debt amount list, Utah was at $18,873, New Mexico at $20,893 and California at $22,191.

According to the Department of Education, default rates are very high, according to its Federal Student Aid division:

Secretary King announced that the FY 2013 national cohort default rate is 11.3 percent.

MarketWatch came up with slightly different numbers, but still alarming:

  • The total outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. is $1.2 trillion, that’s the second-highest level of consumer debt behind only mortgages. Most of that is loans held by the federal government.
  • About 40 million Americans hold student loans and about 70% of bachelor’s degree recipients graduate with debt.
  • The class of 2015 graduated with $35,051 in student debt on average, according to Edvisors, a financial aid website, the most in history.
  • One in four student loan borrowers are either in delinquency or default on their student loans, according the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

While $30,000 may not seem like a huge sum, it is to the one has to repay it.