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College Grads In Ohio Average $30,000 In Student Loan Debt

graduating students
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A new national study of student loan debt says college graduates in Ohio last year left school owing an average of $30,000.

The report from the Institute for College Access and Success shows 64 percent of Ohio undergrads completed their bachelor’s with some kind of student debt in 2016.

At Kent State University, whose graduated had the highest average debt among Ohio’s public colleges and universities, 76 percent of graduates had student loan debt averaging more than $33,000.

T. David Garcia oversees admissions and financial aid for the school. He says it’s working to control costs and educate students about the perils of student loans.

But he still believes in the value of a college degree.

“By earning a four-year degree, there is value at the end,” Garcia says. “You know, taking out a loan for buying a car, for instance, a car depreciates as soon as you drive it off a lot. That depreciates, I always say a college education appreciates.”

Otterbein University reported the highest student debt last year among graduates of private Ohio universities.

The report ranks Ohio 14th for having the highest dollar amount of student debt among graduates, a drop from 10th in 2015. Report author Diane Cheng says just because Ohio saw a drop in its rankings doesn't mean things are improving for Ohio students.

"The fact that there wasn't a huge increase from year to year is encouraging, but still students in Ohio are graduating with more debt on average than many students from other states across the cuontry," Cheng says.

When it comes to the percent of students who graduated with any amount of student debt in 2016, Ohio ranks 9th among all states.

Ashton Marra covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Radio and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program. Ashton can also be heard Sunday evenings as she brings you state headlines during NPR’s weekend edition of All Things Considered. She joined the news team in October of 2012.