Two-thirds of recent graduates of Illinois colleges and universities have student debt, making them the eighth-most indebted group in the nation’s class of 2015, according to a study.
Somewhat better news: Those borrowers are on the hook for an average of $29,305 in student loans, which ranks Illinois a less-alarming 19th by that measure.
The nonprofit Institute for College Access & Success found that high-debt states generally were concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest, and low-debt states were mostly in the West.
At public and nonprofit colleges last year, the state with the highest percentage of graduating seniors with student loans was New Hampshire, where 76 percent of new graduates had student loans. The most carefree graduates might be found in Utah, where 41 percent graduate with debt.
Illinois and four other states — Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Ohio — were tied for eighth, with 66 percent of graduating seniors in those states having student loans.
Few for-profit colleges voluntarily report their graduates’ average debt.
State averages of student debt for new graduates ranged from $36,101 in New Hampshire to $18,873 in Utah.
In a dozen states, average debt exceeded $30,000. That’s double the number of states that crossed that threshold the previous year.
Student debt can vary due to a number of factors, including tuition and fees, the availability of aid from colleges and states, and local living expenses.
To estimate U.S. and state averages, the institute used the most recent figures provided voluntarily by more than half of all public and nonprofit bachelor’s degree-granting four-year colleges.
Colleges aren’t required to report debt levels for their graduates, and available federal data don’t provide the typical debt for bachelor’s degrees or include private loans, the 11th annual report said.
So “state averages may be even higher than they look,” report co-author Diane Cheng said. “Our state averages are based on what colleges voluntarily report about their graduates’ combined federal and private loan debt.”