Rise in Student Debt More Modest Than Anticipated

The recession has impacted higher education in a variety of ways, but rapidly increasing student debt is not among them, says a report released today.

With an average debt load of $25,250, the class of 2010 had a a 5 percent increase in student indebtedness from the previous year, in line with increases in recent years, according to a report by the Project on Student Debt, part of the Institute for College Access and Success, a non-profit that works to increase access to higher education.

The recession hit while students in the class of 2010 were in college, which resulted in less funding for public colleges and higher tuition in many states across the country. Tuition at public four-year colleges went up 8.3 percent last year, according to the College Board. But students were shielded from some of the impact of those changes by increases in grant aid, the Project on Student Debt found.

It's not clear, however, if grant aid can continue softening the blow. "Over time, increases in college costs have gone up faster than available grant aid or family incomes," says Matthew Reed, author of the report. Texas and Georgia have already cut funding to state grant programs, and other states are considering following their lead .

For the second consecutive year, New Hampshire and Maine were number one and two in terms of most student debt, while Utah was again the state with the lowest level of student indebtedness.

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