By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A new report out by the Project for Student Debt finds 70 percent of Minnesota college students graduate with some sort of student debt.

On average, they owe $30,894, which puts Minnesota as the 5th highest in the country for student debt.

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So, can you borrow too much for your education?

“It was a balance of what I wanted to do professionally and what training I needed to get, or what I wanted to get,” Mark Apfelbacher, of Minneapolis, said.

Ron Ramsdell, the founder of College Aid Consulting Services, says every student’s situation is different, but you can certainly borrow too much.

“The key is families need to plan ahead,” he said.

He said families need to consider a few things like the real cost of college, how much money a student can get in scholarships and gifts, how much parents can and will help, the amount of assets from other family members like grandparents and a student’s starting salary upon graduation.

“I was a history major who works as an accountant now, so life has its twists and turns,” Margaret Ott, of Roseville, said.

She was able to pay off her $30,000 in student loans over 10 years by paying $300-$500 a month.

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“I don’t think I went through the process I would go through now if I was going to spend a lot of money,” she said.

A 2013 survey from asked people ‘How much is too much?’

They found 10.7 percent of people thought students should borrow as much as they need and 6.2 percent thought even $10,000 was too high.

The rest of the breakdown was as follows:

— 10.2 percent thought between $10k to $20k was OK
— 19.6 percent thought between $20k to $50k was OK
— 18.6 percent thought between $50k to $100k was OK
— and 9.6 percent thought more than $100k was OK
— 25.1 percent said they didn’t know or had no response

Edvisors publisher Mark Kantrowitz, who runs websites on how to pay for college, says families should consider some benchmarks.

Students shouldn’t take out more debt than their first-year salary, should be able to pay off their loan within 10 years and should not pay more than 10-15 percent of their monthly salary in college loans payments.

Ramsdell says about half of all parents are realistic when it comes to college loans, but very few students understand the long-term ramifications.

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“I try to have them look at the end results,” he said. “I politely say let’s use some common sense here.”

Heather Brown