Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J. Just below Average for U.S. on Student Debt

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J. Just below Average for U.S. on Student Debt

Article excerpt

The average student loan debt for 2012 college graduates increased to $29,400, according to a report released on Wednesday.

New Jersey's average was slightly less at $29,287, but that number still put the state in eighth place nationally, according to the Project on Student Debt at the Institute for College Access & Success.

The group found that seven of 10 students across the nation borrowed to pay for their degrees.

Of the New Jersey schools included in the report, tiny Felician College in Lodi and Rutherford had the highest reported student debt, with an average of $38,598.

Eighty percent of the school's 1,555 students were carrying school-related debt, the report said. Tuition and fees -- not including room and board -- at the Catholic school were $28,080 in the 2011-12 school year.

Students at Princeton University - where tuition and fees topped $38,000 -- had the least debt in the state, with an average of $5,096. The Ivy League school attracts students from higher-income families and is also generous with institutional grants because of its large endowment.

Increasingly, schools have had to rely on private fundraising to offset rising tuition.

Institutional aid has been increased by $6 million at Felician the past two years "in recognition of the need to decrease student indebtedness," said Francine Andrea, vice president for administration and planning. The school now gives out over $15 million in student aid, she said.

Nearly two-thirds of students at both private and public colleges and universities in New Jersey borrowed to pay for school, the report found.

The debt load was near the national average at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, $26,656, and 57 percent of students had student loans.

Of the public colleges in the state, the highest debt load was reported at Rowan University in Glassboro, with an average of $35,027. …

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