Average College Debt Load Surges To $23,200

Average College Debt Load Surges To $23,200


A base Chevy Camaro or nicely loaded Hyundai Sonata can be had for about the same amount of money the average college student owes for his or her education upon graduation. An organization called the Project on Student Debt has discovered that students who graduated from college in 2008 owed an average of $23,200, which is a 6% increase over the past year and some five thousand dollars higher than in 2004, the first year that the survey was conducted.

bummerThe highest debts were found in the northeast; the lowest in the west. Both of those regions typically have the highest and lowest college costs respectively in the nation.

What this means is that debt figures for the most recent grads has yet to be calculated nor can students currently in college expect to see any curtailing of this trend in the coming years. Likely, within the next two years the average grad will owe $30,000 or more upon graduation.

High Unemployment

Worse than rising debt, are the decreasing numbers of jobs available to new grads. As of this writing, unemployment stands at a national rate of 10.2%, with as many as 17% of all Americans either unemployed, underemployed or forced to work part time. Paying all of that money for college, leaving school in debt, and not having a job in hand is becoming increasingly likely for many of today’s college students.

As worrisome as these trends are, students still have options available to them to reduce their college costs even in a challenging economy.


For starters, filling out a FAFSA (Free Application For Student Aid) form and sending that off to the federal government is something every student should do. Once received, the government will develop a Student Aid Report (SAR) with copies of that sent to your school and to yourself. From there, your school will determine a student aid package.

College scholarships remain an important way for students to defray some if not all of their college costs. Not many students are able to get full ride scholarships, but they can shave hundreds if not thousands off of their tuition bill by applying for help. Check out our college scholarship page for more information.

Educational Alternatives

Of course, when college costs continue to rise and debt burdens with it, students will be looking at other options for their schooling including community colleges and state universities. Why go deeply into debt for your college education when the economy is tight and wages are low?


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Categories: Money News

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".