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More College Students in Debt, Struggling to Repay Loans

Students are borrowing more money to attend college and having a harder time repaying their debt, according to a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics.

This analysis looked specifically at three groups of undergraduate students who finished their degrees in 1992-93, 1999-2000, and 2007-08 to compare their borrowing and repayment patterns.

Researchers found:

The percentage of college graduates who borrowed for their undergraduate education increased over time from 49 percent in 1993 to 64 percent in 2000 and 66 percent in 2008.

The average cumulative debt of graduates was $15,000 for 1993 graduates, $22,400 for the 2000 cohort, and $24,700 for those who completed in 2008.

The rate of borrowing was highest for students at for-profit colleges in all three groups.

Within a year of graduation, 65 percent of 1993 students were repaying their loans compared with 66 percent in 2000 and 60 percent in 2009.

About 22 percent of students in repayment in 1993 had monthly loan payments that were more than 12 percent of their monthly income. In 2000, that percentage was 18 percent and in 2008 it was 31 percent. (Financial advisers recommend that students not owe more than 8 to 10 percent of the monthly income, the report notes.)

The data analyzed in the Oct. 17 report came from the NCES Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study.

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