Higher education comes at a price that leaves many college graduates with significant debt. For Minnesota, the average debt per graduate is the sixth-highest in the United States according to the latest data from LendEDU, an independent marketplace for student loan consolidation and refinancing. Colleges and universities across the United States participate in the voluntary yearly survey issued by college data aggregator Peterson’s. (Two-year colleges, for-profit universities, community colleges, online universities and trade schools are excluded.)
State data from 2016 graduates (published in 2017) was calculated by analyzing information from more than 1,300 colleges and universities in the nation. (The number of colleges and universities reporting to Peterson’s dropped, with 1,161 institution responses.)
Midwestern graduates in 2016 in general ranked high for levels of college debt. Graduates of South Dakota higher ed placed higher than Minnesota, in fifth place, with Michigan at 11, Wisconsin at 14, Iowa at 18 and Illinois at 24. North Dakota is an outlier, ranked 42.
Overall, from 2015 to 2016 graduate, average debt per Minnesota graduate decreased marginally to 0.3 percent. Michael Brown, a research analyst at LendEDU, surmised that reasons could include students having greater access to scholarships or that more grant money was available.
The proportion of graduates with debt also fell 1 percent, to 68 percent.
Other notable takeaways from the report, according to Brown, include a surprisingly similar debt load for students of public and private colleges.
“I think generally a reason why many people pick public institutions,” says Brown, “is because they are thought of as cheaper.” Yet the difference is less than $5,000 in the amount of student debt the average graduate will have, he says; for private institutions it’s $30,281 and for public institutions its $26,828. “I thought the discrepancy would have been a bit wider,” he notes.