This is one of the few studies on college debt that takes it down to a localized level. A report by the Project on Student Debt found that Georgia’s class of 2010 college graduates owed an average of nearly $19,000 in loans.
For those of you wondering why students end up with that much debt in light of the HOPE Scholarship, remember that room and board and fees are not covered, and those annual costs can easily exceed $10,000.
I still say the evidence tips in favor of a college degree, although I know many of you disagree. Granted, the job market is tough now, and half of recent college grads are reportedly living back at home with mom and dad. But a degree is still an asset in the long-term, according to most studies on lifetime earning power.
Georgia ranked No. 44 in the state-by-state list of debt owed. Graduates here face less debt after college than their peers nationwide, which may be a result of the generous – although increasingly less so – HOPE Scholarship.
Nationwide, graduates carried an average debt load of $25,250, up 5 percent from the previous year and the highest amount on record. Georgians carried less loan debt than the national average, which indicates nearly two-thirds of 2010 graduates needed college loans to complete their 4-year degrees. New Hampshire topped the list, with 74 percent of graduates owing an average of $31,048, according to the study’s findings.
It’s no secret that it typically costs more money to attend a private college or university rather than a public one. But those attending state schools still accumulate loan debt, even if degrees are a better deal in Georgia.
Southern Polytechnic State University graduates owed an average of $24,360 in loans, according to the report’s findings on Georgia colleges and universities. It cost about $15,448 a year — including tuition, room and board — to attend the Cobb County university.
Among the state’s largest public universities, Georgia Tech grads borrowed $21,838, Georgia State’s borrowed $20,336, and University of Georgia grads needed $15,938. Graduates of Kennesaw State University, in contrast, owed less than a $1,000 each, on average.
So which Georgia graduates owed the most? The Savannah College of Art and Design holds the honor, with diploma holders owing $39,066. Total cost to attend the school is just over $40,000 a year.
Graduates’ debt loads at Georgia’s other private colleges and universities averaged nearly $31,000 at Shorter University, $30,460 at Mercer University, and around $26,000 at Agnes Scott College and Emory University.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog