Ohio students pursuing a higher education shoulder more debt than the national average once they graduate, according to a recently released study.
According to data from The Institute for College Access and Success, a student-focused public policy organization, the average Ohio student working toward a bachelor’s degree in the 2017-18 school year had $30,323 in loans.
The institute’s study, which was limited to U.S. public and nonprofit colleges, placed Ohio at No. 18 across the country. The national average in the 2017-18 school year, according to the analysis, was $29,200.
Nationwide, about three-quarters of all undergraduates attend community colleges and public universities to earn their degrees.
The report’s findings also indicated 60 percent of the Ohio students attending the reviewed colleges and universities had debt, a statistic that placed the Buckeye State No. 16 in the metric at the close of the 2017-18 school year.
In a big-picture sense, the amount of student debt taken out across the nation has increased, year-over-year, though the rate of its upward trajectory has been slowing.
Total student debt for the Class of 2018 increased 2 percent, according to the institute’s findings. Across the U.S., students at the close of the 2016-17 school year had $28,650 in debt.
While student debt continued to increase, several factors played into the reduced frequency, compared to prior years, Debbie Cochrane, executive vice president with the institute, said in a statement.
Added amounts of state and local support toward community colleges and public universities were among the reasons Cochrane cited for the slower rates of increase.
“Colleges, states and the federal government all have an important role to play in reducing the burden of student debt to increase equity in college opportunity,” Cochrane said in the statement.
But Cochrane and others within the institute noted other areas of concern in this year’s report, which is its 14th annual. One cautionary note in the report’s introduction pointed out the different types of loans.
“About 17 percent of the Class of 2018’s debt nationally was comprised of nonfederal loans, which provide fewer consumer protections and repayment options and are typically more costly than federal loans,” researchers wrote.
Another passage in the report reads, “While there is broad consensus that students should exhaust federal loan eligibility before turning to other types of loans, recent federal data show that more than half of undergraduates who take out private loans have not used the maximum available in federal student loans.”
Students in the Class of 2018 had lower average debts in several neighboring states, including Indiana, which notched $29,064, and Kentucky, at $28,435.
But Ohio did fare better than other neighbors, including Pennsylvania, where students amassed average debt of $37,061 in the same sample period, and Michigan, where students racked up an average debt of $32,158.
The institute has an interactive map with state-by-state data gleaned from the 2017-18 school year.