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Report: Average 2010 MN college graduate $29K in debt

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A higher percentage of the class of 2010 from Minnesota colleges and universities graduated in debt and owed more money on average than graduates in the rest of the nation, according to a new report.

The Project on Student Debt reported Thursday that Minnesota students who took out loans graduated with an average of $29,058 in education debt, the fourth-highest in the nation. It also found that 71 percent of the Minnesota class of 2010 graduated in debt, the fifth highest share nationally.

The figures were compiled from survey data by the group, which is affiliated with The Institute for College and Success, a California-based nonprofit that promotes higher education access and affordability. The data does not include students at for-profit colleges.

Nationally, the average graduating debt was $25,250. The report said students in the Northeast and Midwest usually had higher debts than those in the West. New Hampshire had the highest average debt at $31,048, while Utah was lowest at $15,509.

Larry Pogemiller, the new director of Minnesota's Office of Higher Education, said the numbers illustrate how expensive higher education has become. "It's kind of getting out of hand, it is out of hand," he said.

Secondly, the state's education leaders better make sure that pricey education is worth it. "If the quality doesn't support that (debt), it's a double problem," he said.

Among public colleges in Minnesota, students at the University of Minnesota-Duluth graduated with the most average debt at $30,098, closely followed by Minnesota State University-Moorhead ($29,410) and Winona State University ($29,123), according to the report.

Among the private colleges listed, graduates of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design were tops at nearly $44,385, followed by the College of Saint Scholastica ($40,816) and a tie between the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul and Crown College in St. Bonifacius, both at $38,402.

However, the average graduating debts for two of the state's most expensive private colleges, Carlton College in Northfield and Macalester College in St. Paul, were not included in the report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
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