Special Report

Ten States With the Most Student Debt

10. Michigan
> Class of 2012 average debt: $28,840
> Class of 2012 pct. with debt: 62% (19th highest)
> Median earnings with bachelor’s degree: $46,688 (20th highest)
> Avg. total debt: $51,038 (6th lowest)

Students graduating in Michigan in 2012 had nearly $29,000 in student debt, the 10th highest average amount in the country, and 54% higher than in 2004. Michigan’s unemployment rate for people ages 20 to 24 of 8.2% in 2013 was the eighth lowest in the country and may be indicative of promising employment prospects for that age group. However, the median earnings of Michigan residents with at least a bachelor’s degree were just in line with the national median. Weak job growth in Michigan of less than 1% in the 12 months before April will likely make it harder for many students to repay their loans. Fortunately, Michigan residents have not significantly accumulated other types of debt, as their average debt load was the sixth lowest in the country at roughly $51,000 in 2013.

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9. Ohio
> Class of 2012 average debt: $29,037
> Class of 2012 pct. with debt: 69% (tied-6th highest)
> Median earnings with bachelor’s degree: $47,124 (19th highest)
> Avg. total debt: $52,539 (10th lowest)

Nearly 70% of those graduating in Ohio in 2012 had student debt loads averaging roughly $29,000 at the beginning of their careers. For those who remain in Ohio after graduation, the ability to repay these loans may prove difficult given the 13% unemployment rate for residents aged 20 to 24 in 2013. This was among the higher rates in the country. Additionally, as of 2012, the typical earnings of residents with a bachelor’s degree of $47,124 was below the national median. Slow job growth in the state may mean graduates will have to look for work outside of Ohio. For many recent graduates, the issue of student loans could not be more pressing: Ohio had one of the highest student loan default rates in the country among recent graduates as of last year.

8. New Jersey
> Class of 2012 average debt: $29,287
> Class of 2012 pct. with debt: 65% (11th highest)
> Median earnings with bachelor’s degree: $59,550 (the highest)
> Avg. total debt: $73,613 (11th highest)

New Jersey had the highest median earnings of any state for residents with a four-year college degree, at nearly $60,000 in 2012. One factor that may drive up earnings in the state is its proximity to the major metro areas of New York and Philadelphia. Despite the state’s high earnings, graduates in New Jersey faced an average debt burden of $29,287 in 2012, more than 80% higher than in 2004. Many New Jersey residents also have other kinds of debt. State residents had nearly $74,000 in per capita total debt in 2012, one of the highest total debt averages in the U.S.