Seventy percent of the class of 2013 is graduating with college-related debt, with an average of $35,200 per student, according to a study released today by Fidelity Investments.
The study is Fidelity's second Cost-Conscious College Graduates Study, which examines how the cost of college and resulting student debt levels have affected the financial outlook of this year's graduating class, as well as the graduating classes of 2011 and 2012.
Other key findings include:
- Half of 2013 graduates with student loans still say they are surprised by how much debt they've accumulated.
- A total of 85 percent of recent college graduates say they contributed at least some of their own personal savings to their tuition and related expenses; 27 percent contributed more than $10,000.
- Fifty percent say paying off their student loan debt is a top financial goal.
- A more positive stat, 54 percent report they have a financial plan in place to reach their goals.
In Iowa, 70 percent of 2012 graduates at state universities and private nonprofit colleges averaged $28,513.50 in student debt, according to a spokesperson from the Iowa College Student Aid Commission. Community college students graduate with an average of $13,185 in student debt. Click here for a list of loan debt by institution.
"I would say that the majority of students we talk to who have the most difficulty with their student loan debt have well above these amounts," said Heather Doe, associate director of marketing and communications with the commission. "They are often the students who borrowed the maximum amount in Federal Stafford loans and then turned to private education loans to cover the difference."
She points out that the federal loans have payment options designed to make it easier to pay off the debt, including income-based repayment as well as loan forgiveness programs.
The Fidelity study surveyed a national sample of 750 college graduates; 352 are graduating in 2013 and 398 graduated in 2011 or 2012.