Smart Borrower Blog

Average U.S. Graduate Debt Tops $35,000

May 28th, 2013 @ 8:50 PM by Amber Nelson

A recent survey found that 57 percent of 2013 U.S. college graduates specifically chose their major because they thought it would help them get a better paying job. And that’s good; they’re going to need that lucrative job to pay off all their student loans.

That same survey, conducted by the Fidelity Investments firm, found that grads this year are leaving school with an average of $35,200 in student-related debt. Students owe that money to a variety of sources. Those with federal student aid carried an average government loan balance of $26,000. Graduates with private loan funding owed those institutions an average of $19,000, while those with state loans owed an average of $18,000. Students also racked up an average of $13,000 in personal and family loans as well as $3,000 in credit card debt.

Now that they have graduated, 2013 grads are faced with a major debt burden in the midst of a still-shaky job market. About half of the survey’s 750 respondents believe it will take them more than nine years to clear their student debt. Although 92 percent of grads say they will repay their debts using mostly income from their new jobs, they will also turn to other sources. Twenty-five percent said they will ask for help from family and friends, 24 percent plan to use their savings and 21 percent plan on getting a second job to reduce their debt.

Perhaps the most worrisome part of the survey is that half of the 2013’s graduates didn’t realize how much debt they actually accrued in school.

“We’re tending to find people are still surprised at the level of debt they’re graduating with,” said Keith Bernhardt, Vice President of college planning at Fidelity as quoted in a CNN Money article , “which suggests we still have a long way to go in terms of having conversations about planning for college, saving for college and figuring out the best place to go [to college].”

About Amber Nelson
Amber Nelson is a seasoned mortgage industry writer and a regular contributor to and

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