The average student loan debt for graduating members of the Class of 2014 increased 2 percent on a year-over-year basis, a report from the Project on Student Debt at the Institute for College Access & Success finds.
According to the report, Student Debt and the Class of 2014 (36 pages, PDF), 69 percent of new graduates of nonprofit and public colleges and universities had student loans, with rates ranging by state from 46 percent in Nevada to 76 percent in New Hampshire. State averages for the amount of debt at graduation ranged from $18,921 in Utah to $33,808 in Delaware, with six states averaging more than $30,000. An analysis of ten-year trends at the national level found that while the percentage of students graduating with debt rose slightly from 65 percent in 2004, the average amount owed jumped 56 percent over the same period — more than double the rate of inflation — from $18,550 in 2004 to $28,950 in 2014.
Funded in part by the Ford, Gates, Gilbert, Kresge, and Lumina foundations, the report calls for more robust data collection on student debt — which colleges currently are not required to report — as well as federal and state policies aimed at reducing the need to borrow, keeping loan payments manageable, improving consumer information, strengthening college accountability, and reducing risky borrowing.
"Borrowers are graduating with a lot more debt than they did ten years ago, and the Class of 2014's average debt is the highest yet," said TICAS president Lauren Asher. "Student debt has rightly become a major policy issue. Students and families need better information and better policies to make college more affordable and debt less burdensome."