Undergraduate students are leaving school with an average of $30,000 in student loan debt, a new study shows.
Consumerist reports that the latest annual student debt survey from the Institute for College Access & Success found that nearly 7 out of 10 seniors graduating from four-year public and nonprofit colleges in 2015 owed an average of $30,100, which is up 4 percent from the $28,950 in 2014.
The TICAS report does not include data from for-profit colleges, since most of those institutions do not report what their graduates owed upon graduation.
According to Consumerist, this year’s report consists of data provided by 56 percent of public and nonprofit bachelor’s-degree-granting institutions and represents about 82 percent of graduates.
The cost of attending college has been going up for years. CNN reports that private colleges cost families an average of $26,400 last year, which would equate to nearly half of the median family’s income.
According to CNN, one cause of rising costs could be that states are cutting funding to public colleges and universities, which is where the majority of Americans go to school.
“Overall, there’s been a tremendous increase in the number of graduates with student debt compared to the previous generation,” said Lauren Asher, the president of TICAS.
According to Consumerist, there are a relatively high number of students using private loans, and this is a cause for concern because private loans typically cost more and provide fewer consumer protections. Federal loans, on the other hand, come with consumer protections and options like income-based repayment plans that help borrowers avoid default.
“In addition to how much they owe, it matters what kinds of loans students have,” Debbie Cochrane, report co-author and TICAS vice president, said in a statement. “Compared to federal loans, private loans—whether from banks, states, or schools—can be much harder to repay, especially if the borrower hits hard times.”
To help solve the problem of increased student debt, TICAS recommends increasing Pell Grants and creating a new federal-and-state partnership that would work to lower the price of public college for low- and moderate-income students.
“Student debt is still rising. We need to make college more affordable and debt less burdensome for students and families,” Asher said in a statement.