"Increasing student debt in a weak economy can be a knock-out blow to many considering college," said Rich Williams, higher education advocate with U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which advocates for students. "As our economy is recovering, lawmakers must send every signal that college is a good investment. "
Among other finding in the TICAS report:
—Private (non-federal) student loans, which generally have weaker borrower protections but have been diminishing as a source of student borrowing, accounted for about one-fifth of the debt owed by the Class of 2011.
—Debt levels vary widely by state, ranging from $17,250 in Utah to $32,450 in New Hampshire.
—Debt at individual schools ranged from $3,000 to $55,250 though not all schools report that data.
—Among colleges, the percentage of graduates with debt ranged from 12 percent to 100 percent. At 64 schools, more than 90 percent of student graduated with debt.
Online: Companion interactive map with details for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 1,000 public and private nonprofit four-year colleges is available at www.projectonstudentdebt.org/state_by_state-data2012.php
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