Here's your diploma -- and a payment schedule

One of the interesting things in a recent NYT package about student debt is an interactive listing that includes school-by-school breakdowns of the average student debt for each school.

We were a bit surprised by the numbers from Capital Region schools (above). Even though Skidmore and Union College both have expensive sticker prices (both locally and nationally), their average graduate debt figures were among the smallest in this area -- and they had the lowest percentage of grads carrying student debt.

That result probably speaks to a few things about those schools: a) a not insignificant share of the students attending come from families that can help them cover the price and/or 2) many of the students whose families can't cover the cost probably aren't paying the full sticker price. In fact, Union says more than 60 percent of its students "receive some kind of financial assistance."

Contrast that to St. Rose and UAlbany. CSR had the highest average graduate debt -- with 86 percent of its graduates carrying debt. And UAlbany, though having one of the lower debt numbers probably as a result of its relatively inexpensive tuition, had by far the highest debt-to-tuition ratio.

The NYT interactive feature has more info and is worth checking out.

Noted: Americans now owe more in student debt than they do in credit card debt -- the total amount of outstanding student debt in the country is roughly $1 trillion. [USA Today]

Fine print: All the tuition and debt total numbers are for 2010 and via NYT, with one exception: NYT didn't have a tuition number for Union. So we pulled it from College Grotto's rankings for 2009-2010. It appears NYT pulled the numbers from The Project on Student Debt, from which we pulled the "grads with student debt" percentages. The debt:tuition ratio is our own calculation.


Yes, I don't know anyone who went to Union that has around that level of debt. They either had parents help them out and owe $0 or owe about 6 times that amount.

This is interesting to read, but also sad for me at the same time. I graduated from the College of Saint Rose in May 2010, and it took me over a year to land a "real" job.

I am working full-time now, somewhat in my major (public realtions/communications) , but, unfortunatley, I'm not making quite enough money to live--I had to move back home in order to save and not feel so stressed.

It's hard to find a part-time job, since I refuse to work retail--I did that for 7 years--but I could use the extra income.

It's sad that you pay all this money for an education, that essentially, get's you nowhere in this economy. My boyfriend, whom graduated from Albany Law School, is in major student loa debt, as well.

As a Union graduate who didn't have parents to pay his tuition bill with a personal check each trimester, that amount of debt would be a welcome sight to my impoverished eyes. Oy vey.

Amazing how even though UAlbany tuition is low, the average debt is comprable with private schools. Sort of defeats the argument for going to a public college.

I would like to point out that the tuition and fees figure leaves out room and board, which is a significant portion of the cost of attendance, and in the case of UA, adds about $13,000 per year. The debt that many graduates have has gone to pay for that room and board as well as tuition and fees, and would give a lower, and more accurate ratio (the most drastic being UA at 1.22 vs. 3.58).

'tis part of the reason why I'm going to encourage my son to learn a recession-proof specialty trade right out of high school (like pluming or auto mechanics) before going to a 4 year college & getting a liberal arts degree.

Does the absurd debt:tuition rate at UAlbany have anything to do with the fact the majority of the student body chose an inexpensive public school because of their, or their families, lower class economic standing? So despite the low tuition, they still end up with an enormous amount of debt.

UAlbany has a reputation of a cheap school but the debt figures are comparable to RPI. I guess the choice is clear here.

While "average graduate debt" figures provide a perspective on student loans, one must keep in mind they, as averages, do not provide the whole picture. For example, these figures do not indicate the distribution of debt amounts among students - so one school could have many students with no debt and a few students with a great deal of debt, and another school with a more-even distribution of debt among students. It may not be valid to draw too many conclusions from these figures.

@Bob: The point you make about distribution is a good one. Union Grad's comment highlights that, too.

@shannon: I guessed that the relatively high average student debt at UAlbany was a sign that a lot of the people there probably can't afford to pay cash -- so they're financing. If they went someplace more expensive they'd end up owning even more, unless they could get a lot of financial aid.

Wow. Who approved the blog spam from Kristen Franks? Normally you guys are pretty good at keeping that out.

Editors: Yep, it got through and shouldn't have. Blame Greg.

Funny, the same people screaming about student debt will be out on the picket lines next time the UUP goes out on strike.

So which do you want? Higher tuition or lower salaries for faculty and staff? Cause something's gotta give somewhere....

Apparently they need a class at UAlbany on how to apply for grants and scholarships...

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