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Update on Student Debt Stats - Monday Musings

By Mary Piccioli on Nov 12, 2012

Be prepared to debunk the myths created by the very small percentage (1% – 2%) of high debt graduates that we keep reading about in the press.

Tags: data, trends in higher ed


In early summer Kathy Kurz wrote a blog about the media frenzy surrounding student loan debt reaching $1 trillion. Now that fall has arrived and new statistics are available, I thought I would share a few.

According to the Project on Student Debt, an initiative of the Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), here are some interesting statistics on student debt for the Class of 2011, those who graduated from four-year public and not-for-profit colleges and universities:

  • Statistics on student debt. 1 in 3 students graduated with no student loan debt. That’s $0 debt.
  • For the two-thirds who did borrow, average debt compared to the class of 2010 increased 5.3%, from $25,250 to $26,600.
  • Unemployment for college graduates, a contributing factor to the concern about ability to repay student loan debt, remained high at 8.8% in 2011.
  • Private (non-federal) loans accounted for about 20% of student loan debt. That’s about $5,300 of the total average debt of $26,600.
  • In New York State, where S&K world headquarters is located, average debt of students who graduated from four-year public and not-for-profit institutions was about $750 lower than the national average. In addition, 60% of 2011 graduates in NYS borrowed compared to about 67% nationally.


The College Board’s Trends in Student Aid 2012 was also just released. Data from this report provide a bit more detail:

  • 57% of the 2011 graduates of four-year, public institutions have student loan debt averaging $23,800 per borrower.
  • 66% of the 2011 graduates of four-year, non-for-profit institutions have student loan debt averaging $29,900 per borrower.
  • The percentage of undergraduate students from all institutions of all types (two-year, four-year, public, not-for-profit, and for profit) borrowing federal Stafford Loans increased from 23% in 2001-02, to 28% in 2006-07, to 35% in 2011-12.


So, what do we take away from all this? Institutions will want to have data available allowing them to compare average debt at their institution to national averages and competitors’ averages. In particular, be prepared to debunk the myths created by the very small percentage (1% – 2%) of high debt graduates that we keep reading about in the press.

Image © iStockphoto.


Mary PiccioliAbout the author: Enrollment Management Consultant Mary Piccioli joined Scannell & Kurz in April of 2009. She consults on a variety of enrollment management topics, both strategic and operational in nature – from strategic financial aid analysis and strategic enrollment planning to financial and admissions operations reviews. She previously served as Assistant Vice President of Institutional Research and Planning as well as the Dean of Enrollment at St. Bonaventure University, where her responsibilities included undergraduate and graduate admissions, financial aid and institutional research. Prior to that position she served 14 years as the Director of Financial Aid.

Mary holds a B.S. degree in mathematics and an M.B.A, both from St. Bonaventure University.

Connect with Mary on LinkedIn and Twitter @marypiccioli.


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