College graduates in 2009 had an average of $24,000 in student-loan debt, up 6 percent from 2008, according to the New York Times. I graduated in 2009, and, thanks to the substantial financial aid I received, I finished well below average in the debt category. Still, I owe far more than I’d like to. Overall, student-debt levels upon graduation continue to increase at a rate that outpaces inflation.
The Times piece points out how average debt levels differ across geographical regions — higher in the Northeast, lower out west — and how high unemployment is exacerbating the problem:
Paying back student loans is likely to be especially difficult for recent graduates, the report said, because the unemployment rate for college graduates ages 20 to 24 was 8.7 percent in 2009 — the highest annual rate on record and a substantial rise from 5.8 percent in 2008.