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3 States With the Highest Ratios of Student Loan Debt

Amanda Alix
October 20, 2013

With student loan debt topping a collective $1 trillion, most families are being affected by the college debt crisis these days. As the college-bound look for ways to cut their costs, it is useful to note that some states are responsible for a higher degree of college indebtedness than others.

Here are the top three stateswhere at least 75% of 2011 graduates held student loan debt -- with average debt loads of more than $24,000, to boot.

1. North Dakota
A whopping 83% of graduating students have piled on college loan debt, the highest by far of any in the study by The Project on Student Debt. With an average debt load of $27,425 per student, the amount of debt produced by higher education in North Dakota is truly stunning.

2. South Dakota
Neighboring South Dakota is second in the lineup, with 76% of studentsleaving the state's colleges with an average loan total of $24,323. South Dakota has actually improved its standing from the 2008 Student Debtstudy, however, the year in which it ranked No. 1 with 79% of the graduating class encumbered by student debt.

3. New Hampshire
While this New England state ranks No. 3 here -- 75% of graduates leave the state's schools with debt -- it holds the No. 1 spot for the average debt load, an astonishing $32,440. This dubious honor spurred the Granite State Management & Resources department to commission a study from the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation on why the state has the highest level of student debt in the country.

Why is student debt so high?
Basically, this is the question New Hampshire is asking, and the answer is anything but cut and dried. Indeed, the study's author, Brian Gottlob, noted at a press conference recently that not only has the problem been developing and growing over the past 10 years, but it is so multifaceted that there