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Student loans climb: top 10 states with the highest college debt

Increasing numbers of American college seniors are collecting not just their degrees at graduation, but thousands of dollars worth of student loans as well. Seventy-one percent of the class of 2012 graduated with student loan debt, up from 68 percent in 2008, according to a recent study from The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS). But when it comes to debt levels, not all states are created equal. Read on for the 10 states with the highest average debt levels for loan-carrying students upon graduation, according to TICAs. Can you guess which state had the highest? 

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In this photo from on Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 20, 2014, members of the student movement Being Black at the University of Michigan, or #BBUM, rally on the steps of Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, Mich. Student loans for UM graduates averaged $27,815 in 2012.
Melanie Maxwell/The Ann Arbor News/AP/File
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10. Michigan

Average debt: $28,840

Students with debt upon graduation: 62 percent

In Michigan, three-quarters of graduating seniors at Lawrence Technological University finished school with student loans, at an average debt of $41,529 per student. That average was nearly $4,600 more than the reported debt load for students at Ferris State University.

Seventy-one percent of the class of 2012 graduated with student loan debt, up from 68 percent in 2008, according to a recent study from the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS)

The average debt load per student also varied widely depending on what kind of school students attended – about $39,950 for students at for-profit schools and $25,500 for graduates of public institutions. Non-profit college debt was roughly in the middle, at an average of $32,300 per student.

The US is also divided geographically when it comes to student debt – the states with the lowest student debt, such as New Mexico and California, are generally in the west. By contrast, five East Coast states – New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, Delaware and New Jersey – were home to some of the country’s highest rates of student debt.

TICAS based its reporting on data licensed from the Peterson’s educational publishing company, which in turn was sourced from information voluntarily released by the schools. (The study didn’t include data from North Dakota because there wasn’t enough to work with.) The average debt figures on the list represent the average debt among loan-carrying students. 

Federal surveys collect data on student debt every four years, and noted that colleges and universities aren’t required to report student debt figures, according to TICAS.

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