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Rhode Island Student Loan Debt 9th Highest in Country

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

 

Students graduating from colleges in Rhode Island leave school averaging about $26,340 in student loan debt, the ninth-highest rate in the country, according to a new report from the Project on Student Debt at the Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS).

The study found that college seniors who graduated with student loans in 2010 owed an average of $25,250 nationwide, up five percent from 2009. The report also notes that the Class of 2010 faced the highest unemployment levels for new college graduates in recent history: 9.1 percent.

Topping the list of Ocean State schools where graduates leave in the most debt is Bryant University ($ 39,490). Salve Regina ($35,737) and Providence College ($32,850) are the other two schools where college seniors graduate with over $30,000 of debt. At Brown University, the number is $22,468.

By comparison, the average Rhode Island College graduate leaves school with $18,939 in student loan debt while the average University of Rhode Island graduate has about $22,750 in debt after completing school.

“Student debt continues to rise, but debt levels vary tremendously from school to school and state to state,” said report author Matthew Reed. “Nationally, two-thirds of the Class of 2010 entered a tough job market with debt averaging $25,250, up from $24,000 for the Class of 2009. Some thought the jump would be even higher because of the economic downturn, but increased grant aid helped at least partially offset lower family incomes and higher tuitions while the Class of 2010 was in school.”

Northeast and Midwest Have Highest Debt

At the college level, the report found that average loan debt for the Class of 2010 ranged from $950 to $55,250, and the proportion of students who graduated with loans ranged from two to 100 percent. According to the study, a total of 98 colleges reported that their 2010 graduates owed an average of more than $35,000, and 73 colleges reported that more than 90 percent of their Class of 2010 graduated with debt. The data for the report came from about half of all public and private nonprofit four-year schools in the country and three-quarters of the class of 2010.

In Rhode Island, Roger Williams University, Johnson & Wales and the Rhode Island School of Design were not included in the study.

The report a found that the states with the highest average debt for 2010 graduates are all in the Northeast and Midwest, while states with the lowest debt are concentrated in the West. New Hampshire (No. 1), Maine and Vermont all rank ahead of Rhode Island when it comes to most student loan debt while Massachusetts and Connecticut are just behind the Ocean State.

Utah and Hawaii had the lowest average debt at $15,509 and $15,550, respectively.

How You Borrow Matters

The study did not take into account the number of students that are leaving school with debt, but not a degree, an issue that has become prevalent over the last decade. In September, GoLocalProv reported that more than 4,000 Rhode Islanders have defaulted on their loans within two years of leaving school since 2007. A majority did not complete their degree.

According to TICAS President Lauren Asher, it is becoming more important for people to pay attention to their borrowing habits.

“How you borrow, not just how much you borrow, really matters,” Asher said. “If you have federal student loans, Income-Based Repayment, unemployment deferment, and other options can help you manage your debt even in these tough times. If you’re just starting the college process, it’s important to know that sticker prices don’t say much about what college will really cost you, and there are new tools to help you shop around. Since October 29, colleges are required to post ‘net price calculators’ on their websites. Net price is the total cost minus any grants and scholarships. When these calculators are easy to find, use, and compare, they can help you make smart decisions about borrowing for college.”


 

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