College grads carrying significant debt, report says - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

College grads carrying significant debt, report says

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Three out of every four college students in the state are graduating with debt, according to a report from Iowa Watch, a non-profit investigative organization.

University of Iowa  student Carrie Kulp is feeling mixed emotions as she nears graduation weekend.

"Slightly terrified but also really excited to be done," Kulp said.

Graduating means trying to land that first job.

"It's been daunting," Kulp said.

For many, it also means wrestling with debt. The Iowa Watch report cites that the average student debt among Iowa's three regent universities is more than 27 thousand dollars.

Researchers with the non-profit Iowa Policy Project point to rising tuition costs as a result of less state dollars for higher education.

"It's no great mystery if you look at the last 12 years, state support at regent universities has declined dramatically," said Peter Fisher, Research Director at the Iowa Policy Project. 

But research shows there is a significant return on investment for getting that college degree.

The U.S. Census bureau estimates that a college graduate earns one million dollars more in his lifetime than a person with a high school diploma.

"There's still a big payoff to getting that degree," Fisher said. 

Kulp considers herself lucky.

She is graduating with manageable debt thanks to scholarships and spending two of her four years at a community college, giving her a little less anxiety in the job search.

"If I had even double what I have, I'd be a lot more afraid, just feeling more pressured," she said. 

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