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US college students now owe a crippling average of $29,400 when they graduate: report

Some 71 percent of students who earned a bachelor’s degree at an American college in 2011-12 graduated with student loan debt.

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Claudia Kelley (L), of San Francisco, California and Cameron Langford of Davidson, North Carolina lay on the grass and read in a courtyard at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. (William Thomas Cain/AFP/Getty Images)

A new report released Wednesday by the Institute for College Access and Success, an Oakland, Calif.-based research group, finds that 71 percent of students who earned a bachelor’s degree at an American college in 2011-12 graduated with student loan debt. The average amount owed was $29,400.

These are loan amounts owed by the students themselves and do not include money their parents borrowed to help them pay for school.

The student debt burden is up since four years ago, when 68 percent of the class of 2008 borrowed to pay for their bachelor’s degree, and borrowers owed an average of $23,450.

From 2008 to 2012, average debt has increased an average of six percent a year, the institute said.

The report is based on federal data released by the government every four years and student loan data self-reported by 1,000 colleges.

The institute found that the student debt burden varied widely among regions and from school to school. Students in the East and Midwest borrowed the most. At some colleges, the average student debt was $5,000 per borrower; at others, $50,000 per borrower.

According to the institute, colleges where students graduated with notably low amounts of debt include Princeton University, Howard University and the City University of New York’s Hunter College. High-debt-generating colleges include Minneapolis College of Art and Design, multiple Penn State campuses and Wheelock College.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/131204/us-college-students-now-owe-crippling-average-29