The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) released their annual report today on student debt, with the finding that the average loan amount upon graduation from a four-year college in 2017, for students with loans (65% of all graduates), was $28,350. Although from 1996 to 2012 we saw the average debt rise about 4% a year, this has slowed to where there was only a 1% increase from 2016 to 2017.
The TICAS figures are similar to ones collected with different methodology by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, which calculated the average debt at $29,650 for 2016 graduates (the national study is only conducted every four years).
There is, however, significant differences depending on what institution the student attended, as one might expect. On the low end of institutional differences the average debt at graduation was $4,400 but on the high end students were graduating with an average debt of $58,000. It matters a great deal financially where one goes to school.
In addition to the loans taken out, in 2015-2016, on average students and their families paid $6,600 out of pocket on top of scholarships and grants received.
Organizations like TICAS help us understand the actual situation of student debt to help students and families go beyond the hype as well as assist policy makers who are trying to make a difference.