The real cost of college at Bemidji State

Earlier this month, Sen. Claire Robling (R-Jordan) asked students in a Senate higher education committee hearing why the average student debt was so high:

“If you had $26,000 debt, you completely financed tuition payment with loans, and that just seems unusual to me. Yes you have living expenses, but many students get family help, there’s a $2,500 tax deduction, and there’s financial aid. I really want someone to tell me why loan levels so high. What are they borrowing for, unless they’re fully financing education? Or are they financing other purposes?”

(The state average is about $26,000, but the debt incurred by the average student in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is apparently a bit lower, student leaders say.)

They said they'd get back to her, and the image above -- provided by the Minnesota State University Student Association -- is what they found. (Click here for the full -size PDF.)

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Using Bemidji State University as an example, the association calculated the four-year total at more than $52,000.

But even that's not the true total, the document states:

This student would also need to pay for food and utilities during his last two years of college, plus possibly a car payment, insurance, phone, computer and other expenses, which would significantly increase the number of hours he had to work to make ends meet.