Minnesota college graduates carry high student debt load

In this Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011 file picture, students attend graduation ceremonies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The number of borrowers defaulting on federal student loans has jumped sharply, the latest indication that rising college tuition costs, low graduation rates and poor job prospects are getting more and more students over their heads in debt. The national two-year cohort default rate rose to 8.8 percent in 2009, from 7 percent in fiscal 2008, according to figures released Monday, Sept. 12, 2011 by the Department of Education.
Butch Dill | AP file

Minnesota college and university graduates have more debt on average that students in all but four other states, according to a report released Tuesday.

The Project on Student Debt finds that on average, 2014 graduates have a little less than $32,000 in student debt. The report also says most graduates carry student debt, and at 70 percent it's the third highest rate in the nation.

"We tend to have higher incomes in our state, and we tend to have higher tuition in our state, and people with higher incomes are willing to borrow more," said Larry Pogemiller, Minnesota's higher education commissioner.

Pogemiller says, however, that the average debt load has actually flattened over the last few years, and that Minnesota has a lower-than-average loan default rate.

Still, Pogemiller says schools need to try to keep costs down and offer more grants and other financial aid to students with lower and middle incomes.

The data for the report was collected from 22 colleges and universities, including the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and several MnSCU schools and private colleges.

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