Students enrolled in small private liberal arts colleges in Massachusetts tend to graduate with significantly more loan debt than their counterparts at larger universities, according to a new nationwide study.
Graduates of Massachusetts institutions that ranked highest in student debt were saddled with an average of $38,200 when they graduated in 2011, compared with about $17,000 for those who ranked at the bottom of the list, according to the study released Thursday by the California-based Institute for College Access & Success, a independent, nonprofit group that works to make higher education more affordable.
The study is the latest snapshot of a growing reality for many college graduates, whose education is now more heavily dependent on borrowing than that of their parents. It also comes as college affordability is a hot topic on the campaign trail and as families struggle to keep up with soaring tuition costs.
The study found that students who graduated with debt from four-year public and private institutions nationwide owed an average of $26,600 in loans. That is a 5 percent increase over 2010.
New Hampshire tops the nationwide list for the highest average student debt, at $32,440. Massachusetts ranks 14th, with average student loan debt of $27,181.
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