Reported by WMUR
College graduates in New Hampshire have the second highest levels of debt in the country, just under Delaware.
The average New Hampshire graduate owes nearly $33,000. Experts say one reason is many students are caught in the middle-class trap.
Southern New Hampshire University graduate Rebecca Warren was celebrating after earning her second bachelor’s degree. She said she is well aware of the loan payments that lie ahead.
“Given how much I have from my first program and this one, it is worrisome to some degree,” Warren said.
Warren is banking on her job paying down the majority of her debt; however, not all graduates have that option.
“I feel like anyone graduating now, especially with (the) job market struggling, is going to have a rough time,” said former UNH student Mike Stallard.
Researcher Brian Gottlob blames the high-level of student loan debt on many things, including what he calls New Hampshire’s middle-class trap.
“They’re not not wealthy enough to pay for their college completely, but they’re of income levels that are high enough that they don’t always qualify for the largest grants in aid,” Gottlob said.
On top of that, graduates of the state’s public colleges owe more than the national average.
“Our public colleges (have) relatively high tuition levels and do not give large amounts of grants in aid,” Gottlob said.
Recently the U.S. Senate introduced legislation that would allow students with outstanding debt to refinance at lower interest rates, from nearly 7 percent to 3.86 percent.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., joined the effort and released a statement Saturday.
“We have to make college more affordable for our students and also help them better manage their debt after they graduate,” Shaheen said in the statement. “The increasing costs of higher education is hurting our families and our economy, especially in New Hampshire where an estimated 74 percent of students graduate with debt averaging nearly $33,000.”