Report: Indiana Has 11th Highest College Debt

The average student in Indiana graduates with $27,500 of college debt, according to a report from the Project on Student Debt.

Purdue graduation

Photo: Chris Foresman (Flickr)

Music students graduate from Ivy Tech.

A new report shows only 10 states leave their public college students with more student debt.

The Project on Student Debt’s seventh annual report on student loan debt ranks Indiana as having the 11th highest debt in the nation. At $27,500, the Indiana average is $900 higher the national average for the class of 2011.

The report collects data from public university undergraduates and then compares state levels of debt, including how many students graduate in the red and how much debt they have on average.

Debbie Cochrane is Research Director at the Institute for College Access & Success – the group which compiled the report.  She says the report is meant to call attention on loan debt, and increase awareness of students’ over-reliance on borrowing.

“The one single biggest thing that needs to be done to keep student debt down is reducing students need to borrow,” she says. “Students need to borrow when there isn’t enough money from savings, earnings, and grants aids to cover college costs. So we need to try to keep college costs down and increase the grant aid that’s available to students who can’t afford to pay it themselves.”

John Beacon, the Vice President of Enrollment Management at Indiana State University says loans are necessary for many students. He says he advises undergrads to borrow, but to beware who their lender is.

“First and foremost, that students need to be prepared to have as a part of their financial aid package- if they are financial aid eligible- some form of a loan,” Beacon says. “The trick is which ones to accept and which ones to avoid.”

The report says almost one in five people with only a high school education are unemployed.  Cochrane says taking out some loans to get a college degree and improve job prospects may be worth the trade-off.

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