MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A higher percentage of the class of 2010 from Minnesota colleges and universities graduated in debt and owed more money on average than graduates in the rest of the nation, according to a new report.

The Project on Student Debt reported Thursday that Minnesota students who took out loans graduated with an average of $29,058 in education debt, the fourth-highest in the nation. It also found that 71 percent of the Minnesota class of 2010 graduated in debt, the fifth highest share nationally.

The figures were compiled from survey data by the group, which is affiliated with The Institute for College and Success, a California-based nonprofit that promotes higher education access and affordability. The data does not include students at for-profit colleges.

Nationally, the average graduating debt was $25,250. The report said students in the Northeast and Midwest usually had higher debts than those in the West. New Hampshire had the highest average debt at $31,048, while Utah was lowest at $15,509.

Larry Pogemiller, the new director of Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education, said the numbers illustrate how expensive higher education has become. “It’s kind of getting out of hand, it is out of hand,” he said.

Secondly, the state’s education leaders better make sure that pricey education is worth it. “If the quality doesn’t support that (debt), it’s a double problem,” he said.

Among public colleges in Minnesota, students at the University of Minnesota-Duluth graduated with the most average debt at $30,098, closely followed by Minnesota State University-Moorhead ($29,410) and Winona State University ($29,123), according to the report.

Among the private colleges listed, graduates of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design were tops at nearly $44,385, followed by the College of Saint Scholastica ($40,816) and a tie between the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul and Crown College in St. Bonifacius, both at $38,402.

However, the average graduating debts for two of the state’s most expensive private colleges, Carlton College in Northfield and Macalester College in St. Paul, were not included in the report.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (41)
  1. 29k is nothing says:

    29k is laughable. I’m over 80k in debts still and it’s been 12 years since I graduated. My immediate balance of student loan debt both government backed and private loans was literally staggering. Like you would fall over and not wake back up if you heard the number. My student loan payment every month is a second house or multiple Escalades and I’ve paid large chunks off in addition to the monthly payments. I don’t have much sympathy for the people with loan debt. It is a real drag on what your lifestyle could be but life is about choices and I chose a high paying carreer with a long tail of debt following me.

    1. usuk says:

      Like anyone cares about you?

    2. Wrongway Feldman says:

      High paying career and you haven’t been able to pay off your loans in 12 years, riiight. Still $80,000 in debt? No sympathy? Don’t hate yourself. You earned it.

      1. 29k is nothing says:

        @Wrongway not asking for sympathy, simply pointing out it is a choice that people make going in only to complain they are in debt afterwords. Duhhh we knew how much we’d owe going in. You will make some sacrifices as compared to kids with wealthy families or kids that get a lot of it paid for becaue of their parents’ lack of success or are minorities. When you fall in the middle, are not a minority you have to take on some debt for certain occupations. I don’t think you are quite understanding, I carry the debt the same as I carry a mortgage thought paying them off would require two check from my checkbook any day of the week. My overall point is quit complaining and be glad that there are even loans available to be able to climb up in status from where you started. Debt sucks yes but realizing you are well off in spite of the debt and having the ability to live anyway you want is because of your hard work is great.

    3. calling your bluff says:

      I call BS. If it has been over 12 years since you graduated, and you are still over 80k in debt while having a high paying career, those figures just don’t add up.

      1. 29k is nothing says:

        @calling… call away. It’s a comment thread and I don’t care what you do or don’t believe. The very fact you are ‘calling my bluff’ tells me you didn’t quite make it yourself. I wouldn’t be commenting on all this if I didn’t live it. I know a good number of people that paid for their own education and believe me that 80k on the East Coast is nothing. Throw in a graduate degree and it adds up fast. We’re not talking community college tuition. I may be an outlier in general given the audience here but amongst a good number of successful people that made their own way, my story isn’t uncommon one bit. The successful people however don’t complain about the situation, they solve the problem without the poor-me attitude. At a certain point things need to get into the hundreds of thousands for them to be serious numbers. 80k in the big picture just isn’t that big a number. Yes at graduation the full amount of loans seemed depressing, but this far along, it is a blip within my monthly bills. What you don’t get and frankly I couldn’t forsee while back in college is that there is a whole strata of successful people living at a different level than the average or even the above average income earner.

        1. calling your bluff says:

          I’m not saying that I don’t believe you have 80k in student loan debt still. I’m saying if you have a high paying career like you say you do, then after 12 years I would think that debt would be paid off by now. That’s what I meant when I said the figures just don’t add up.

      2. Reality sucks says:

        I don’t see why you are finding this so hard to believe. Sounds like “29K” is my age. Sounds like s/he specialized like I did. Took me 8 diligent years to pay off mine. Understand– that when you put in 8 years (my case) of education and graduate….things are waiting. A to-be wife (some then follow with kids), a better car that isn’t held together with duct tape, I started my own office with no borrowed money. I was lucky–I qualified for a house by the age of 30. Most can’t. A four year degree doesn’t do much anymore, it’s unfortunate. My parent’s generation: not many went to college. My generation: we all wanted to go to college. This generation: expected to go to college.

        1. Exp says:

          It’s that expectation of going to college that is making it difficult. Especially for those of us who have to go BACK because your industry no longer exists or has been exported.
          It cost a lot to go the first time and the second time will be 2x or more the price.
          Those say it’s a sacrifice. Yes it should be. But, it shouldn’t be a “I can’t have a family or future until after 30” That’s just insane. Some would respond, “well that’s tough for you.” Maybe, but we shouldn’t be nearing middle age before we get a career, and with today’s disposable employee mentality, we sacrifice too much financially/personally for a job that may just disappear because some exec decides Americans aren’t worth the trouble. It’s both bad for the person and society in general.

          1. Reality sucks says:

            Try this again, didn’t post last time. You’re right, the expectation does make it difficult, but that’s the reality. My wife had to wait for me to get out, for the dust to settle and eveything to get paid off. Now she is back in getting her masters degree at the age of 40. It’s nuts. We don’t have kids and never will, I know I’m just too old for that. Times certainly have changed.

        2. 29k is nothing says:

          I’m in my 30’s, have a family, kids, wife owns a counsulting firm as well and is younger than me by two years. One huge plus for me was I bought my first house while I was a sophmore in college knowing that the loans would be an issue at graduation for at least a short time. I didn’t want to rent and so bought the house with a 20% downpayment I earned in while waiting tables in college those first two years. That made it working nearly full time, plus internships plus a full course load plus maintaining a house and I got married in college to boot. Graduating college and working more normal hours was like a permanent vacation by comparison.

          1. Reality sucks says:

            Sounds like you and I are one in the same. There’s nothing wrong with us. Looking back, I’m glad I made the decisions I did. I’m glad I always thought ahead. And I don’t regret a thing. Cheers.

  2. Really says:

    You gonna have to paint lots of pictures for $44,000 Lucy. Maybe you should go to a real college instead of Mpls art and design. That’s almost criminal, young impressionable kids having their talent pimped and led astray to make a school rich. Art and design college in a depression economy? Get real..

    1. Citizen says:

      Ask plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and the skilled trades about long apprenticeships and education, then ask them about the high unemployment in the skilled trades right now. If I had to pick a career right now in college, I would be hard pressed to know what it would be that would give an adequate return on the financial investment. A skilled artist/designer/actor, if talented, can make a good living. Right now, it is my opinion that the education system is doing quite well from people going back to school for retraining because of the high unemployment.

      1. another viewpoint says:

        There is high unemployment of college educated people as well. Not just in the trades. I think the colleges paint a picture for these new incoming students that they are going to do well, make lots of money after college and be happy with their career, that if they do well in school and graduate from their great college they will find a job right away, that if they go to their college they will have some great connections to hire them, etc. etc. I heard it all. But in reality that is not true.

  3. What Happened? says:

    Isn’t college viewed as investment anymore? What happened to the concept of having to spend money to make money? Compare what the average high school grad makes over a lifetime to the average college grad and decide if $30K in good debt is worth the investment? I don’t think it’s an unmanagable amount.

    1. DUH says:

      What happened is that conservative policies and conservative thinking (or nonthinking as it were) have simply destroyed America and the American people.

      1. What Happened? says:

        Can you elaborate for me? I’m not following your train of thought. Please provide an example of how conservative policies and thinking led us to where America is today.

        1. trying to elaborate for ‘DUH' says:

          I’m guessing what ‘DUH’ is trying to say with his ridiculous talk (by the blaming on Conservatives talk) is that everyone should be able to go to school for free and not have to take so many student loans. LMAO.

  4. system is not fair says:

    I graduated from a Minnesota college (not naming which one) in 1997 with $65,000 student loan debt. While I went to school with other students who got most of their education for free because they came from low income families – l& some of them graduated with $13,000 – $20,000 in student loan debt and they were complaining about that.

    I struggled greatly when I got out of college. It was too much stress to bear that debt load while looking for jobs. I had student loan collectors calling me every day.

    Something is unfair with the system. I think all students should be given an equal chance. I don’t think it’s fair that just the students from low income families can get most of their schooling paid for and then students who come from anything else don’t.

    1. stubby says:

      Who held a gun to your head and forced you to spend the money? It was your choice so quit complaining. News flash, mother of 2 buys a mini van and goes $30,000 in debt….so what!

      1. 29k is nothing says:

        Yes and you can forbear your student loans almost indefinitely if you need to presuming they aren’t private loans. You can’t stop paying on the car or they will come and take it. The difference between paying student loans and not having them in simple terms is buying older used cars versus really nice, top end luxury cars buty still paying for them. Given how freely people get into credit card debt I don’t quite get the adversity to a mere 40k in student loan debt assuming you didn’t pick a useless carreer path. My bet is that people that are in say 65k in debt like System is not fair above won’t live to their means and feel entitled to the new cars before they can truly afford them

        1. system is not fair says:

          To “29k is nothing”: Your assumption is far from correct. My only debt is student loan debt.

          1. 29k is nothing says:

            Ok system, let’s say that is the case. If you only owe 65k and live a well to do life what is the problem? I gave up a lot in the early years because let’s face it the payments are big when you start off, but I am in the top 2% of earners in 12 years. I think I got exactly what I am still buying. The difference now is that the student loans are not even noticed when they are auto deducted from my checking account. For me I sat down and figured out what career made sense where I could make a good living aimed for it, achieved it and pay for it. I know there are people that didn’t give enough though as to their major in relation to actually paying for it. To them I say, you should have put more thought into it going in.

            1. system is not fair says:

              Wow. You assume way too much about people.

      2. system is not fair says:

        stubby: I wasn’t saying anything like that. I have a right to voice my opinion if I want. I am not complaining. I am voicing my opinion.

    2. Camry says:

      What do you want? You want them to charge the low income students?
      Equal chance? Hah! Get over it…. There will always be someone complaining.

      Kids from low income families are unlikely to go to school if they didn’t get the assistance that they need. Is it there fault for being born in a low income family? I think not.

      Now get over it and go away!

      1. Explanation for Camry says:

        Say….’Student A’, who just graduated from high school and comes from a middle-class family applies for college and finds out he/she has to take out all student loans to attend the college. (Also take into consideration the family is not going to financially help out with college for whatever reason)

        Then ’Student B’, who just graduated from high school and comes from a low-income family applying for college finds out he/she is granted almost full tuition for free based on family financial situation.

        Both ‘Student A’ and ‘Student B’ do not have the immediate or personal finances to pay for college. (Remember, I said Student A’s middle-classed family is not financially helping). Why shouldn’t they both have to take out student loans; Why should one get their schooling for free, while the other has to take out a heavy load of loans. They both are technically in the same financial boat.

        *Both originally new high school graduates with no way of paying for their college.

        1. system is not fair says:


      2. system is not fair says:

        Camry: I have a right to voice my opinion if I want to. My opinion is that regardless of where you come from should not constitute getting your college tuition for free. That if someone comes form low-income or middle-class, they should both have to carry the debt of student loans if needed. Not one over the other. Since both of them don’t have the means to pay for it anyway.

        My taxes go into the system that helps low-income pay for their college. No one paid for my college except me. That’s the way I think it should be for everyone.

        Everyone should be responsible for paying for their own college. Not your attitude of “because someone is low-income they are entitled to have the public pay for them”.

  5. tired of the low income wanting everything for free says:

    I think what ‘system is not fair’ is saying, is that the low income students should have to go into student loan debt too – just like everyone else. That would be equal and fair for all.

  6. College kid says:

    I am a current college student.I will probably end school with a 12-13k debt. However, I was smart. I went to a community college before a four year, I applies for many many many scholarships and grants, then i chose a public university over a private. Many college kids are going to private schools and wonder why they are so far in debt. STOP DOING THAT! Public schools are just as great as private schools.

  7. Jake says:

    If you are dumb enough to roll up $80K in student loan debt, and didn’t have a guaranteed job that paid a 6-figure salary upon graduation, so you could pay it back, I will not feel sorry for you. You took a HUGE gamble, and lost. That’s on YOU, not the taxpayer, not the ‘prestigeous’ college, not the government, but YOU.
    If you didn’t have parents who would help pay for it, if you didn’t save for it, if you didn’t work for it, you will get NO sympathy from me. If you couldn’t get a grant or a scholarship, you shouldn’t have set your sights so high. You thought that since you went to a ‘high class, east coast school’, that you were guaranteed a great career, just like the unemployed dude living next to me, in mommy and daddy’s house, driving a 20 year old clunker. He wants to be an orchestra conductor, so he went out east to get a PhD in music. Guess what? He’s half bald, fat, a big wussy, and with all of that ‘education’, can’t even take care of himself without significant help. Today’s college kids have ZERO concept about personal finances.
    They hear that they won’t have to make payments until they graduate AND get a job, so they don’t worry about paying ANYTHING BACK. Then they get hit by the SLEDGEHAMMER by the banks, who hold the loans, but since the gov’t backs them, they think that they can ‘protest’ and have the loans forgiven. You are just as bad as the banks who made bad loans who needed gov’t bailouts. The banks shouldn’t have been bailed out, and neither should YOU.

  8. Jake says:

    What I would call all of these unpaid student loans, is FRAUD. When you take out a loan, you agree to the TERMS of the loans. If you say, “tough luck”, that’s NO excuse. So, GET TO WORK, and pay back your loans. I don’t care if you have to wash trucks for FedEx, mow lawns, lay shingles, flip burgers, punch a cash register, it’s time to start paying it BACK. If you didn’t get the ‘dream job’ that your college ‘promised’ you, that’s not my fault, and it’s not the taxpayers’ fault. It’s YOUR fault.

    1. hmm? says:

      Who said they were unpaid?

  9. Jake says:

    If you are dumb enough to go 80 GRAND in debt and not be able to land a good job, then you deserve to get burned. Calling you stupid would be too kind.

    1. 29k is nothing says:

      Jake, I’m the 80 grand guy but I have my dream job so who are you talking to? If I told you how well I and my family live you would be even more upset than you seem to be already. If I didn’t take out as much debt as I did, I wouldn’t be as well off as I am. It was simple go to college, pay for it with other peoples money via loans, become successful, pay for it and walk away satisfied. What people seem to forget is that many people that take out large amounts of student loans do get good jobs. It’s not a myth but how it is supposed to be. Life is supposed to be difficult and sacrifice is part of the deal.

  10. hmm? says:

    Who are you talking to?

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