Students across the United States from the graduating class of 2011 acquired $26,500 in student debt, according to a new report by Institute for College Access and Success’s Project on Student Debt. This reflects a 5 percent increase from 2010, and is officially the largest year for student debt in history. In fact, the increase continues to grow faster than inflation.
The report also said two-thirds of graduates left college with loans, one-fifth of students hold private loans. I was surprised to read that only 20 percent have private loans–I always thought it was more. But that number is by no means small, and still represents a scary reality. Private loans have fewer consumer protections and repayment options, so students are essentially entering more stringent agreements.
However, this report’s data must be viewed critically. It cannot make incredibly accurate comparisons, because 25 percent of universities found to have high debt rates in previous years did not provide data for 2011.
The report also found 64 of the colleges surveyed had more than 90 percent of graduates in debt.