College Debt Continues to Climb; Connecticut Students Graduate with 3rd Highest Loan Debt in US

Nearly two-thirds of students who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in Connecticut in 2015 had student loan debt averaging $34,773, the third highest level in the nation.  The state ranked 14th in the percentage of students graduating with debt, according to data compiled by The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS). Student debt continues to rise for new graduates, across the country and in Connecticut.  Student debt at graduation ranged from $15,521 for Yale University graduates to $47, 715 at Sacred Heart University and $47,873 at Quinnipiac University.

At public and nonprofit colleges in 2015, seven in 10 graduating seniors (68%) had student loans. Their average debt was $30,100: up four percent compared to the Class of 2014. About one-fifth of 2015 graduates’ debt (19%) was in private (non-federal) loans, which are typically more costly and provide far fewer consumer protections and repayment options than federal student loans, the Institute pointed out.

At institutions across the country, state averages for debt at graduation in 2015 ranged from $18,850 to $36,100, and new graduates’ likelihood of having debt ranged from 41 percent to 76 percent.

In 12 states, including Connecticut, average debt was more than $30,000 – up from six states the year before. High-debt states remain concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest, with low-debt states mainly in the West. Average debt at the college level varies even more, from a low of $3,000 to a high of $53,000, and the share graduating with loans ranges from seven percent to 100 percent.

“Student debt is still rising, and the typical college graduate now leaves school with over $30,000 in loans,” said TICAS president Lauren Asher. “We need to make college more affordable and debt less burdensome for students and families.”

The states with the highest debt levels for graduating students, according to the TICAS study, are New Hampshire ($36,101); Pennsylvania ($34,798); Connecticut ($34,773); Delaware ($33,849) and Rhode Island ($32,920).  At the other end of the spectrum, students graduation from colleges in Oklahoma have the lowest average debt ($24,849), followed by Washington, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii.