College seniors who graduated in 2009 carried an average of $24,000 in student loan debt, up 6% from the previous year. Meanwhile, unemployment for recent college graduates climbed from 5.8% in 2008 to 8.7% in 2009 – the highest annual rate on record for college graduates aged 20 to 24. The Project on Student Debt’s new report, Student Debt and the Class of 2009, and a companion interactive map include average debt levels for the 50 states and District of Columbia and more than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities.
The report focuses on students who graduate from public and private nonprofit four-year colleges with loans. Students in the District of Columbia and New Hampshire graduated with the highest average debt levels: $30,033 and $29,443, respectively. Those in Utah and Georgia had the lowest average debt: $12,860 and $16,568 respectively. As detailed in the report, actual state averages for student debt are likely higher than these estimates, which are based on data reported voluntarily by public and private nonprofit four-year colleges.
The report also includes lists of high- and low-debt colleges, and new data on how much of the Class of 2009’s debt at graduation is made up of private (nonfederal) loans. Read the report