How Much Does the Average College Student Owe in Loans?

Most college students complete a FAFSA and accept tuition loans from the federal government to pay for education. The average debt varies, depending on the type of institution attended.

How Much Does the Average College Student Owe in Loans?
stock.xchng
Overview
With the cost of college education rising, many students turn to loans to finance their studies. Loans can add up over time, and paying them back can be a challenge. Here are some basics about student loan debt.
Average Debt
For 2007-2008, the average student loan debt of graduating college seniors was about $23,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Almost 66 percent of students graduating with a bachelor's degree in four years had some debt in 2007-2008.
Public Versus Private
The 2004 study by the National Center for Education Statistics showed that graduates from public colleges had about $17,000 in student loan debt, whereas public college graduates had about $22,000 in loan debt.
Applying for Federal Aid
Approximately 86 percent of the students who applied for federal aid borrowed money for college. Although many schools have their own procedures for students seeking merit-based and need-based financial aid, students must also fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Debt Increase
The average cumulative student debt increased by about 5 percent between the 2003-2004 and 2007-2008 surveys. Meanwhile, between 2001 and 2006, college tuition rose approximately 57 percent.
Other Student Debt
The American Council on Education presents debt data for students earning degrees other than bachelor's. The median debt for a community college (2-year) student was almost $6,000 in 2003-2004. Students graduating with a master's degree had debt ranging between $26,000 and $29,000 for that portion of their studies.
New Ways to Repay the Debt
If you are an educator or work for the government or a nonprofit organization, the federal government may allow you to repay your loans based on your income level. You may also be eligible for loan forgiveness after a certain period of service. This new program was put into effect in July 2009.
Resources
reference
FinAid.org: Student Loans
reference
Income-Based Repayment Info
reference
American Council on Education