College Grads Owe an Average $23,200 in Student Debt

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Recent college graduates with dreams of post-degree grandeur are being pummelled by the recession and forced to live with the reality of how much their degrees cost and how difficult it is to use them right now.

A report released this week by The Project on Student Debt shows that 2008 college graduates owe and average of $23,200 on their educations, a figure 25 percent higher than what their older brothers and sisters owed when they graduated from college in 2004. On top of double-digit debt, the report also cites unpublished numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that show how seriously college graduates are being affected by unemployment. In the third quarter of 2008, the unemployment rate for graduates ages 20 to 24 was 7.6 percent. One year later, the rate has jumped to an all-time high of 10.6 percent.

The report also breaks down average student debt by state on a user-friendly map which shows a concentration of high averages in the Northeast and a concentration of low averages in the West. The District of Columbia ($29,793), Iowa ($28,174) and Connecticut ($26,138) have the highest averages while Utah ($13,041), Hawaii ($15,156) and Kentucky ($15,951) have the lowest. Though the report deals in averages, there are many students who owe much more than their state’s average, and the number of students who owe twice the national average has been creeping up over the past few years.

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