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From "A Lifetime of of Student Debt? Not Likely" By Robin Wilson in the Chronicle of Higher Education
"In fact, despite stories of a large number of students who face gargantuan debt, about a third of graduates leave college with no debt at all for their education. Of the 65 percent who face debt, the average they owe is around $20,000. That's just below the starting price of a 2009 Ford Escape.
"Most people borrow a reasonable amount of money, they pay it back, and they are better for having gone to college," says Mr. McPherson.
But for a vocal minority of borrowers, problems with student-loan debt are very real. About 8 percent of undergraduates borrow at least double the national average.
Why do some students borrow more than $40,000 for a bachelor's degree when average borrowing is only half that? The answer is almost never that they are from very low-income families and need that much money to get a four-year degree. Public four-year colleges charged an average of just $6,585 for in-state tuition and fees in 2008-9. The total cost, including textbooks, room and board, and other living expenses, averages $18,326 a year — and financial aid brings that figure down for many students."