Average Debt Levels of Private Nonprofit Sector Bachelor’s Degree Recipients over Time

About 60% of students who earned bachelor’s degrees in 2011-12 from the public and private nonprofit institutions at which they began their studies graduated with debt. They borrowed an average of $26,500.

Figure 10B: Average Total Debt Levels of Bachelor’s Degree Recipients, Private Nonprofit Four-Year Colleges and Universities in 2012 Dollars, 1999-2000 to 2011-12

Only students who began their studies at the institution from which they graduated are included in the data reported here. The blue bars represent the average debt levels of bachelor's degree recipients who relied on student loans. The orange bars represent average debt per bachelor's degree recipient, including those who graduated without student debt. The percentages along the base of the axis represent the percentage of degree recipients who borrowed.

Notes & Sources 

NOTE: Debt figures include both federal loans and loans from nonfederal sources that have been reported to the institutions. Transfer students are excluded. Some students earn more than one bachelor's degree and some institutions may report number of degrees rather than number of degree recipients. This would lead to a slight underestimate of debt per graduating student. Debt figures are based on institutional reporting to the College Board and are best approximations. Estimates for 2011-12 incorporate both the responses for that year and the change from 2010-11 for schools reporting for both years. Exact dollar amounts should be interpreted with caution. The data are not adequate to allow comparable calculations for for-profit institutions.

SOURCES: The College Board, Annual Survey of Colleges, 2001 to 2013; calculations by the authors.

  • The 65% of private nonprofit four-year college bachelor’s degree recipients who graduated with debt in 2011-12 borrowed an average of $29,900, 24% ($5,700 in 2012 dollars) more than the average debt of the 64% of 2001-02 graduates who had education debt.
  • For graduates of private nonprofit four-year colleges, average debt per graduate, including those who did not borrow, increased by 23%  (from $15,400 to $19,000 in 2012 dollars) between 2001-02 and 2006-07, and by 3% (from $19,000 to $19,500) over the next five years.