One of the top issues to consider when going to college is how you plan to finance your education. If you don’t have cash to pay the tuition and fees you may find yourself considering student loans. Knowing the average student loan debt after college may encourage you to seek other ways to pay your school bills.

Average Student Loan Debt

The average amount of debt for graduating college students is $24,000 as of 2010, according to the Project on Student Debt. This marks a rise in the average debt compared to previous years. The average was $13,200 in 1996. The Institute for College Access and Success found that student debt growing an average of 6 percent every year. A survey of 73 colleges found that 90 percent of their students left college in debt for their education.

Unemployment for College Students

During about the same period that average student loan debt rose, the unemployment rate for college graduates shot up, too. The rate was 5.8 percent in 2008 and went to 8.7 percent in 2009. So more college graduates now face dual challenges when they leave school. They struggle with how to pay for higher student loan debt without having a steady income.

Types of Loans

When borrowing for school, students take either federal or private student loans. Federal Stafford loans are the most common for eligible applicants because they come with low interest rates compared to traditional loans. Private loans are a last option due to higher rates and less forgiving terms. For instance, in some cases the student must start making payments on private loans while still in school. Students can defer federal loans until after graduation.


If the average student loan debt of $24,000 concerns you and you want to avoid taking on debt for your education, consider a few alternatives. For one, you can apply to less-expensive schools, such as public community or state colleges. When you go to school in your own state, you can take advantage of more grants in many cases. You should also start saving as much money as possible while still in high school once you make the decision to attend college. Apply for every grant or scholarship available; you can find leads at your school’s guidance office. Work at least part time when in school to pay your expenses instead of taking more loans to cover these needs.

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About the Author

Louise Balle has been writing Web articles since 2004, covering everything from business promotion to topics on beauty. Her work can be found on various websites. She has a small-business background and experience as a layout and graphics designer for Web and book projects.