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Student loan debt hits new record

Recent college grads owe more than $26,000 on average, and more than a third of them are working in jobs that don't require a college degree.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 18, 2012 4:05PM

This post comes from Scott Cohn at partner site CNBC.


CNBC logoThe average college student who graduated in 2011 had $26,600 in student loans, according to a new report, which estimates that two-thirds of last year's graduates left college with student loan debt.


The average debt is the largest since the Institute for College Access and Success began compiling the figures in 2005, and it comes amid soaring college costs, record loan defaults and a persistently difficult job market for college grads.

While unemployment among college graduates is only slightly higher than the overall rate, the study found a stunning 37.8% of recent graduates are working in jobs that do not require a college degree. The study said that means wages are depressed, making the situation for graduates even more difficult.


Image: Woman with paperwork (© Brand X/SuperStock)"Recent college graduates have entered an enormously difficult job market, which poses particular challenges for those who need to begin paying back student loans," the study said.


Indeed, the report cites recent U.S. Department of Education data that show the federal student loan default rate at its highest level in 14 years. The New York Federal Reserve recently reported that more than 5 million student loan borrowers have at least one loan past due.


For the Class of 2011, the study said, graduation has been an especially rude awakening. "Most students in the Class of 2011 started college before the recent economic downturn, but the economy soured while they were in school, widening the gap between rising college costs and what students and their parents could afford," the study said.


The nation's soaring student debt -- which recently topped $1 trillion -- has sparked debate over whether a college education is worth the price in the current job market. But the study noted that the unemployment rate for young workers with only a high school education is more than twice the rate of their college-educated counterparts.


Compounding the problem, the study said, are state budget cuts, which have led to large tuition increases, fewer grants, and an increasing need for college students and their families to borrow money to finance their education.


The study found wide variations in indebtedness from state to state, with the largest debts concentrated mostly in the Northeast.


The most indebted state is New Hampshire, with an average debt of $32,440, followed by Pennsylvania at $29,959, Minnesota at $29,793, Rhode Island at $29,097 and Connecticut at $28,783.


The state with the smallest average debt is Utah at $17,227, followed by Hawaii at $17,447, California at $18,879, Arizona at $19,950 and Nevada at $19,954.


The study found the highest average debt for a public college is at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, while the highest-debt private nonprofit college was the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati.


The study found 20 colleges it listed as "low-debt," averaging between $3,000 and $9,750. While it did not rank the colleges by debt level, the list includes Yale University, Hunter College in New York and the California State University campuses in Bakersfield and Sacramento.


Missing from the study are for-profit colleges, which critics say have worsened the student debt crisis. The study cited data showing 96% of graduates from four-year, for-profit colleges took out student loans, borrowing 45% more than graduates of other types of colleges.


But the study said so few for-profit colleges report their data that it is impossible to include them in the results.


More from CNBC and MSN Money:


Oct 18, 2012 5:06PM
Well if we quit subsidizing it with federal & state money, they would have to quit charging so much or nobody would go.
Oct 18, 2012 5:34PM
I wonder how much of this debt is made up of people that got useless degrees. If the job only pays $30000 don't spend $100000 on the degree.
Oct 18, 2012 5:27PM
Higher education is a subsidized business. As long as loans are available colleges will have no reason to bring costs under control. The rates rise as fast as health insurance but no one gives a damn. Why?Because academia is full of left leaners? It has to change.
Oct 18, 2012 4:59PM

So much for that hope and change thing.


Welcome to Obamaville.

Oct 18, 2012 6:00PM

thers no jobs so dont waste your money

Oct 18, 2012 7:24PM
The four year colllege model is out of date. Undergraduate studies should only be 3 years. First year students should not spend their time sleeping through their intro classes. First year students should be talking and volunteering with experts in different fields so they can find the right career for themselves. The second and third year should be intense preparation for their future degrees including tough exams and internships. Once they have their first jobs they can party.
Oct 18, 2012 5:12PM

This once again boils down to greed.  The schools are charging higher and higher costs but as the years go by that is to be expected, because thats what most businesses do.  Second theres no real grants being offered because of the restrictions in place.  For instance for me Im an adult and even if I was a younger person my parents could not afford to put me through college, therefore its my responsibility, but the government is expecting parents to foot the bill, well hello Im almost 50 thats not going to work.  Im being told because of a lousy $2,000, I cant get ANY grants especially a pell grant because I make over $23,000, and Im not a pauper with a bunch of kids.  Second they need to change the ratio of the poverty level because of the way everyone changes the cost of living. The cost of living is up 6.5%!!!!  My job offers me 1.5%. whats wrong with that picture? There are people that are not seeing things as they are, and are writing or wanting to see what they wonna see for their own benefit.  We need to help each other and see whats real and work together as a country or its not going to work.  Theres no point in going to school, when there are NO jobs out there and the ones that are, these companies are being very PICKY about who they hire, instead of qualifications. 


Oct 19, 2012 9:38AM
26,000?? Where does this number come from?  They must not be including the other loans that parents cosign on.  I am a little over 100k right now, Ive managed to be able to pay it down from 115.  Everyone I know has anywhere from 80k to 140k in debt because they were not eligible for aid and received no scholarships.  Thats the real bad thing about being a Caucasion. Call it racist, call it what you want, but if you are a white American, who's parents own a house, your screwed when it comes to aid.  Be any other nationality, or a foreigner with a green card, and you get to go to school for free!!! Awesome. I work in somewhat my field, but more than half of my check goes to loans. Im not complaining, but working with people who came her as foreigners and hearing their story of going to school for FREE, YES FREE, is very discouraging.
Oct 18, 2012 7:44PM

If reelected Obama will want to forgive these student loans.  I helped my kids through college and they too have student loans to pay, but they made the debt and they will pay them off. 

 Defeat Obama!!

Oct 18, 2012 6:11PM
The Liberals running all colleges try to keep jacking up tuition costs way above the inflation rate, and their cronies in DC keep raising loan amounts to pay for it.

And the kids.....keep getting more and more in debt.

When you hear some sleazebag politician bragging about how he's increasing student loans...all he's doing is perpetuating the cycle and letting his pals at the colleges get away with even more outrageous tuition hikes.  The students are getting nothing out of the loan increases.  The colleges just raise their costs.

Oct 19, 2012 5:43AM
what gets me is how many got these loans and pissed away the money and didnt even get a degree
Oct 18, 2012 10:55PM
whaaaaa ! If you cant afford college then go work at 7-eleven.Thats what everyone said about the people who lost their homes,right! If you cant afford the loan/home dont boohoo to us.Gee I like to see the shoe on the other foot every once in a while.
Oct 19, 2012 1:56AM
I have student loans totaling over 50K and even though I was a resident in the state of Wyoming I didn't qualify for in state tuition because the university said I moved there to attend school. I waited a year before applying for in state tuition and was a registered voter, election judge, had a resident hunting and fishing liscense, car registered there, buying a house, etc.....It's all about a cash grab to squeeze as much as they can out of anyone attending-look at the price of textbooks.....Oh and to add insult to injury after graduating I had to pay an additonal $30.00 fee just to receive a copy of my diploma
Oct 18, 2012 9:52PM

"If reelected Obama will want to forgive these student loans. I helped my kids through college and they too have student loans to pay, but they made the debt and they will pay them off."


But it's okay for hired-in executives to blockade job hiring to keep those graduates out and cherrypick the kids of Republicans to fill those roles, able or not? Get the Hell out of America, will you!

Oct 19, 2012 10:32AM
Loan forgiveness of any kind helps very few and does nothing to solve the problem. There needs to be a cap placed on tuition on any subsidized school. A REASONABLE cap - not simply "you can only raise tuition 6% each year." 

I also strongly believe that the required course loads need to be revamped to include only courses relevant to the degree. Students should not have to waste their money on PE, philosophy, and foreign language for an Accounting degree.  Those things are nice in theory, but kids shouldn't be forced to take out loans for them.

Oct 18, 2012 9:50PM

"what they should do is make mandatory retirement for the geezers staying in their jobs till 50-60 years old and place college students in those positions."


That would be unfair. What they should do is create a This is Your Life, for those deadbeats and show them how pathetic their time on Earth has been. Drinking and smoking problems, broken marriages, kids who won't talk to them, bitter narrow-mindedness on the job. Everyone is at fault except them. It should then be shown to the 60+ year old loser still doing secretarial work AND the kid thinking about replacing them. Meanwhile... there's a rich prson who can't tie their shoelaces relying on that person.

Nov 14, 2012 4:41PM
$25 for opening a new account at ING - easy money.  There are referral links for the bonus here:
Oct 19, 2012 11:17AM
Why isn't anyone reporting on the college loans that these same college studentsparents made and haven't repaid in complete? I am talking about the ones that are outstanding that was made ten and twenty years ago? As poor as I am, I lack about $70.00 repaying all mine back. I made that debt by returning to college for refresher courses eleven years ago. It has not been an easy task. I just feel that other people from in their 40's to 65 can repay those debts. I am not saying that all people have these debts, but there are a good many people who will not work with the creditors or servicers to payoff these debts. They could be even forgiven as old as they are.
Oct 18, 2012 9:16PM
what they should do is make mandatory retirement for the geezers staying in their jobs till 50-60 years old and place college students in those positions.
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