11:23am

Thu October 18, 2012
Top Stories

Average College Debt More Than $26,000

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP/WMOT) — A new nation-wide report shows two-thirds of the college class of 2011 finished school with loan debt, and those who borrowed walked off the graduation stage owing more than $26,600. That's up about 5 percent from the class before.

The latest figures are calculated in a report by The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS). The report does not include most graduates of for-profit colleges, who typically borrow more than their counterparts elsewhere.

Still, while 2011 college graduates faced an unemployment rate of 8.8 percent in 2011, even those with debt remained generally better off than those without a degree. The report emphasized research showing that the economic returns on college degrees remain, in general, strong. It noted the unemployment rate for those with only a high school credential last year was 19.1 percent.

Tennessee students are faring better than most. The state was ranked 46th in the nation by the Project on Student Debt earlier this year. The project reports that the average Tennessee college student borrows about $20,000, more than $6000 below the national average.

The latest figures come at a time of increasing alarm about the sheer scope of student debt nationally, which by some measures has surpassed $1 trillion.