The Average Debt Owed by 2017 College Grads in NJ
The average borrower graduated a New Jersey college or university in 2017 with a student debt load of $30,794 — a 9 percent jump compared to the Class of 2016.
New Jersey posted a higher average debt amount than 39 states, according to an analysis released Wednesday by LendEDU, a Hoboken-based marketplace for loans, refinancing and credit cards.
Based on survey results from four-year public and private institutions, including 22 in New Jersey, the LendEDU analysis finds 62 percent of New Jersey's 2017 grads exited school with debt.
Among private schools, students left Fairleigh Dickinson University's Metropolitan and Florham campuses with the highest average amount of loan debt — above $40,000 on both campuses.
Princeton's average debt load came in at a little over $9,000. That was the lowest figure reported in New Jersey, and the ninth-lowest in the nation.
Among public schools, New Jersey Institute of Technology saw students leave with the greatest amount of money owed — $40,979, followed by The College of New Jersey at $37,787.
With an average debt of $10,082, Ramapo registered the 11th-lowest amount nationwide.
Ken Kamen, president of Mercadien Asset Management in Hamilton Township, said the heavy burden of student loan debt is "all too common" among their clients. So many people "are behind the 8 ball," contributing to the $1.52 trillion nationwide issue.
"Once you sign on the line, that's debt you have and that debt stays with you. Even bankruptcy doesn't absolve it," Kamen said, noting sizeable debt could affect one's ability to make other big purchases going forward.
Kamen said "it should be a crime" to discuss college finances with high school seniors in terms of aggregate dollars.
"These are big abstract numbers to them," he said. "Everything should be quoted in future monthly payments because that brings it down to ground zero for young people."
At $18,425, Utah posted the lowest average debt per borrower in the LendEDU report. Pennsylvania posted the highest — $36,193.