D.C. has highest student debt in the country

The Project on Student Debt recently published its figures for the Class of 2009—and it ain’t pretty.

American student debt is frighteningly high; according to the study, which was published by the Institute for College Access and Success, the national average debt for a graduating senior in 2009 was $24,000. Among all states, D.C. claims the highest debt rate per student ($30,033), although New Hampshire ($29,443), Maine ($29,143), Iowa ($28,883), and Vermont ($27,786) followed close behind.

Surprisingly enough, however, Georgetown doesn’t have the highest student debt among all schools in the nation’s capital. Corcoran College of Art and Design ($42,355) leads the pack, followed by American University ($40,966) and George Washington University ($31,299). The figures make Georgetown’s $25,085 average debt look paltry by comparison.

According to the study, high average debt correlates most strongly with high tuition and low endowment size. Considering Georgetown’s history with the former and the latter, we’re a bit surprised that we don’t boast the highest numbers in the District. But then again, low average debt correlates with an affluent student body; that’s likely where we’re making up the difference.

The Class of 2009 took out most of its student loans before the recent economic slowdown, which means they not only missed out on interest-rate drops, but also graduating at the worst time in decades. Statistics reflect the tough times; the unemployment rate for college graduates was 8.7 percent in 2009, which is a 34 percent increase compared to 2008.

To make things worse recent grads would have had their work cut out for them to just plain work. Not only is D.C.’s rate of student debt exceptionally high, but the area also has an unemployment rate that beats the national average by more than one percent.

On the bright side, at least we don’t go to Corcoran.

Photo: John Fewings

2 Comments on “D.C. has highest student debt in the country

  1. Fourth out of how many? AU, Howard, UDC, GW, Georgetown, Catholic, Corcoran…I’m sure I’m missing some, but that puts us at middle-of-the-pack.

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