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Average Student Loan Debt Jumps 10 Percent; CU Student Choice Encourages Families to Consider Costs When Choosing a College
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 6:55 AM

Average student loan debt grew by more than 10 percent between 2011 and 2012, according to new data released by the Institute for College Access and Success, also known as TICAS.

The nonprofit advocacy group found that seven in 10 college seniors graduated in 2012 with student debt, which on average was $29,400. In some states the average debt was as high as $33,650, and in others as low as $18,000. Likewise, colleges had average student debt levels ranging from $4,450 to $49,450.

By comparison, TICAS found 68 percent of students who graduated in 2011 had accrued some amount of debt, but the average was $26,600.

In a Dec. 6 blog post, Credit Union Student Choice a business partner of Credit Union Resources, Inc., encourages students and their families to consider costs when choosing a college.

“Make sure the school(s) gives you a clear statement of the cost of tuition which includes tuition, fees, room and board as well as college related expenses such as books and materials,” Janet Barger of Credit Union Student Choice suggests in the Dec. 6 blog. “Remember that any financial aid you get will be applied first to paying the school’s tuition and fees. If there is money left over, the school will give it – known as a ‘refund’ – to you to help you pay for things such as food and rent.”

To help cut down on costs, Credit Union student Choice recommends that students find out about school, major or program specific scholarships, grants, etc.

Although average student loan debt varies from state to state, TICAS reports that roughly the same group of states makes up those with the highest and lowest debt levels as in previous years. In 2012, the state with the highest average student debt was Delaware, with $33,649, followed by New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Rhode Island, all of which have average student debt levels of more than $30,000. This was a marked increase from just a year prior when in 2011 Delaware did not fall into the top 10 states with the highest levels of student debt, and New Hampshire topped that list at $32,440.

On the other end of the spectrum, New Mexico had the lowest level of student debt in 2012, at $17,994. California, Arizona, and Nevada all had average student debt levels under $21,000. But in 2011, eight of the top 10 low-debt states had average student debt levels of under $21,000, compared with four in 2012.

Credit Union Student Choice offers tools and resources for families to educate themselves on how to best afford a higher education.  Credit unions looking to help their members and families are encouraged to learn more about Credit Union Student Choice.