The Pennsylvania class of 2009 graduated with $27,066 in debt, which is more than $3,000 more than the national average, according to The Project on Student Debt. The average debt has actually grown by more than $10,000 since 2001, making Pennsylvania’s private and public four year institutions the 7th highest in the nation when it comes to student debt. Around 72% of 2009 graduates are saddled with student loans, good for the 5th highest ranking in the U.S.
While many experts still feel it is a good idea to borrow money to pay for a college education, they want to warn students not to over extend themselves so that they do not have extremely high student loan payments they can not afford. Pennsylvania is not the only state in the union struggling with student loan defaults. The U.S. Department of Education reported a 7% student loan-default rate for the 2008 fiscal year. This is up considerably from the all0time low of 4.5% in 2003, but pales in comparison to the record high of 22% in the 1990s.
Experts are contributing the increase in Pennsylvania students’ debt to higher tuition levels and more students enrolled in expensive private schools. Also, many Pennsylvanian students come from lower or moderate income families which results in less federal, state and institutional grants. These three forms of funding are necessities to help keep some students from having to borrow all of the money they need to pay for college.
Even though most other states are experiencing higher student loan-default rates, it appears that Pennsylvania is seeing a “perfect storm” brewing with their increased numbers. With tuition costs rising and less government and institutional funding going towards needy college students, these kids have to take out student loans as a last resort to pay for their higher education.