Average Debt Levels of Public 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.
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 57% of public four-year college bachelor’s degree recipients who graduated with debt in 2011-12 borrowed an average of $25,000, 22% ($4,500 in 2012 dollars) more than the average debt of the 52% of 2001-02 graduates who had education debt.
- For graduates of public four-year colleges, average debt per graduate, including those who did not borrow, increased by 12% (from $10,600 to $11,900 in 2012 dollars) between 2001-02 and 2006-07, and by 20% (from $11,900 to $14,300) over the next five years.