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Report shows changes in Connecticut student loan debt from 2007 to 2017

The average student loan debt per borrower reported by 922 colleges and universities nationwide increased $9,212 from 2007 to 2017, according to a study LendEDU released Wednesday, with seven of 13 Connecticut institutions reporting larger increases.

The New Jersey-based personal finance comparison site released a report last year that ranked colleges and states based on average debt for the Class of 2016, but this is its first time showing change over the course of a decade.

The report is based on data that schools self-report to the test preparation and financial aid services company Peterson's, so the LendEDU report comes with the caveat that "it is possible that some institutions misreported their financial data."

LendEDU Research Analyst Mike Brown said his biggest takeaway from the report was the variance by type of school. In terms of the change in the percent of students graduating with debt from 2007 to 2017, there was a decrease of 3 percentage points at private schools, decrease of 1 percentage point at women's college, increase of 4 percentage points at public schools and increase of 7 percentage points at historically black colleges and universities.

"A lot of the schools that I guess you would classify as elite or top-tier, such as Princeton, Harvard, Yale, we actually find that those schools are the ones with the least amount of student debtors," Brown said. "I think this is probably because generally they probably come from more affluent backgrounds ... and they do have larger endowments, so they can distribute more scholarships and grants."

In Connecticut, six schools — Trinity College, University of Saint Joseph, Connecticut College, Western Connecticut State University, Fairfield University and University of New Haven — saw increases in both the average debt per borrower and the percentage of students with debt.

Another six schools — Sacred Heart, Yale, Post, Quinnipiac, Wesleyan and Albertus Magnus — saw increases in the average debt per borrower but decreases in the percentage of students with debt, indicating a concentration of more debt among fewer students.

The difference was particularly striking for Sacred Heart, which saw a 64.08 percent increase in average debt per borrower, from $25,505 to $42,033, but a decrease in graduates with student loan debt from 94 to 72 percent.

Central Connecticut State University went in the opposite direction, showing a decrease from $10,500 to $5,831 in average debt but an increase in graduates with debt, from 38 to 61 percent. Spokespeople from Sacred Heart and CCSU did not respond to emails seeking comment. The report did not show any data from the University of Connecticut.

After CCSU, Yale had the second-lowest student loan debt for 2017 while University of New Haven reported the highest, at $49,941. The share of students with debt in 2017 ranged from 16 percent at Yale to 90 percent at the University of Saint Joseph.

The data showed that over the decade, average debt at Connecticut College increased from $21,523 to $31,884, while the share of students with debt increased from 35 to 46 percent.

Nationwide, only 41 of the 922 colleges saw decreases in both average debt and the percentage of students with debt.

Brown noted that student loan debt is the second-largest form of consumer debt, behind only mortgage debt. He particularly hopes that financial aid administrators and lawmakers look at LendEDU's report.


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