If you’re planning to go to college, student debt might be one of your most pressing concerns. It’s not always avoidable — after all, college is a requirement for many professions, and many low-income people attend college to try and raise themselves out of their socioeconomic status.
College can be a great way to find better job prospects, which means it can be a good return on investment. But if you’re looking to save money through college, it’s important to extend that savings to your student debt. When you’re choosing the college or degree you strive toward, use this state-by-state analysis of student debt for a better understanding of your financial state in college.
The Average Student Debt
In every state, there’s an average amount of student debt for graduating seniors. You can use this as a kind of metric to understand what types of degrees people are pursuing and where they’re largely pursuing them.
When you start looking into it, you’ll find that there’s a significant geographic element to the world of student debt, and this number is no different. The five states with the highest average debt are all in New England: Connecticut with an average debt of $38,510, Pennsylvania with $36,854, Rhode Island with $36,250, New Hampshire with $34,415, and Delaware with $34,144.
The other side of the country, conversely, tends toward having a much lower debt. The five lowest-average states are all situated on the west side of the country, with all but one in the Southwest. That includes Utah, which is the only state with an average debt under $20,000, at $18,383. Following that, the next lowest are New Mexico with $21,237, Nevada with $22,064, Wyoming with $22,524, and California with $22,785.
The Colleges With the Highest and Lowest Debt
State averages, however, don’t always tell the whole story. You can often find an affordable college even in a state with a high debt average.
This is perfectly demonstrated in Connecticut. It has the nation’s highest average debt, at $38,510. Its highest-debt college is around $11,000 higher than the average debt: the University of New Haven, with an average debt of $49,941. But if you attend the lowest-debt college, Central Connecticut State, you’ll leave with a debt of only $5,831 on average.
New York is also a great depiction of the difference between high-debt colleges and low-debt colleges. It houses the college with the highest average debt in the nation — the New York School of Interior Design, which has an average debt of $65,401. However, it also has the college with the lowest average debt: CUNY Lehman College, which has an average debt of $4,410.
The Percentage of Students Graduating With Student Debt
Regardless of where you’re planning to go, it’s very important that you pay attention to how many students graduate with debt on average. A lower percentage can mean that there are better social programs in place to help people pay for college.
There are only eight locales where less than 50% of students graduate without debt: Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Washington D.C. These are also some of the states with the lowest average student debt. Utah has both the lowest average debt at $18,383 and the lowest percentage of student debt at 38%.
On the other hand, some states, especially ones that have high average debt, have a very high percentage of students graduating with debt. In New Hampshire, South Dakota, and West Virginia, the percentage of student debt is 74%, the highest in the nation.
When you discuss saving money after college, it’s very important to take into account student debt. With a huge student debt burden, you won’t be able to save very much money for some time after you graduate, and becoming delinquent on those debts can be debilitating for your future credit score.
Instead of resigning yourself to the student debt burden of a school in your area, you should do your own research to find a school that offers both helpful financing options and a great education. Regardless of what you might have always thought, it definitely is possible.