Average Debt Levels of Public Sector Bachelor’s Degree Recipients over Time
About 57% of students who earned bachelor's degrees in 2010-11 from the public four-year colleges at which they began their studies graduated with debt. Average debt per borrower was $23,800, up from $20,100 (in 2011 dollars) a decade earlier.
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 under-estimate of debt per graduating student. Debt figures are based on institutional reporting to the College Board and are best approximations. Estimates for 2010-11 incorporate both the responses for that year and the change from 2009-10 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: Annual Survey of Colleges, 2001 to 2012; calculations by the authors.
- Among all bachelor's degree recipients at public four-year institutions (both borrowers and nonborrowers) who earned their degrees from the institution at which they began their studies, average debt was $13,600 in 2010-11.
- Among public bachelor's degree recipients, borrowing grew more rapidly from 2005-06 to 2010-11 than it had during the preceding five years. Debt per borrower grew at an average annual rate of 2.1% beyond inflation and average debt per graduate grew at an average annual rate of 2.7%. These figures were 1.4% and 2.5%, respectively, from 2000-01 to 2005-06.