By Peter Schworm, Globe Staff
Recent college graduates are carrying an average of more than $20,000 in debt, a growing burden that is outpacing starting salaries, according to a national study released today.
Graduates in the class of 2007 carried six percent more student loan debt than the class of 2006, while starting salaries for recent graduates rose just three percent in the same period, according the Project on Student Debt.
“The class of 2007 graduated before the financial downturn, but today’s tough economic times make high student loan payments even harder to bear,” said Robert Shireman, the project’s executive director. “Student debt levels are rising year after year, and starting salaries have not kept up. Now more than ever, students need information and counseling about all their options when they’re deciding how to pay for college and how to repay their loans.”
Average debt for the class of 2007 was $18,482 at public colleges and $23,065 at private colleges, the survey found.
Students in Iowa and New Hampshire graduate with the highest debt levels: $26,208 and $25,211, respectively. Those in Utah have the lowest average debt at $13,266. South Dakota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, and Iowa have the highest proportions of students graduating with student loans, at 81 percent, 75 percent, 74 percent, and 73 percent, respectively.
Massachusetts ranked 19th in average debt, with an average of $21,090, an 11 percent increase from 2006. More than 60 percent of graduates borrowed money to pay for college, which was about the national average.