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The Unlucky 1% With $150K In Student Loans

March 29, 2012 by staff 

The Unlucky 1% With $150K In Student Loans, Meet Kelli Space. She went to Northeastern University to get a degree in sociology. And she graduated in $200,000 of student loan debt. In the economy’s newest trillion-dollar crisis, she is the 1 percent.

Kelli is not the face of America’s student debt problem. Among the 37 million people in this country with student loans to pay off, the median balance is $12,800. A whole 72 percent of borrowers have less than $25,000 left in debt, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

No, students like Kelli are the rarities, the white rhinos. Only about 5 percent of borrowers owe more than $75,000. The question is: How do they get there?

In some cases, the answer may be that the students simply didn’t understand the decision they were making, at least according to a new study of high-debt borrowers by youth advocacy group Young Invincibles. The group surveyed about 6,500 former undergraduate and graduate students, who owed an average of $76,000 in loans (those who only had a bachelor’s degree averaged $54,000). A full 65 percent responded that they either misunderstood or were surprised by some aspect their loans.

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