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The Reality of Student Debt Cost 

The Reality of Student Debt

Student loans may be necessary for you to reach your goals—which usually means a higher income for college graduates—but it’s important to know how borrowing for that investment might impact your life down the road.

The majority—59 percent—of Indiana students at a four-year college had some student loan debt at graduation. The average Indiana graduate’s college loan debt in 2017 was $29,562.*

What do those numbers mean in real life? Using the student loan calculator at, an individual with student loans of $29,562 would have monthly payments of $340.20 for 10 years, assuming a 6.8 percent loan interest rate. estimates an annual salary of at least $40,824 is required to afford to repay this loan amount, with 10% of the graduate’s gross monthly income devoted to repaying student loans for 10 years.

If you are considering student loans as part of your financial aid package, be sure to use a loan payment calculator like the one at to look at what different loan amounts might look like in your future.

You may decide to work harder at finding scholarships, for example, or take a part-time job to lower your total student debt.

*Based on graduates of four-year, public and private, non-profit institutions. Source: Project on Student Debt, an initiative of The Institute for College Access & Success

Good Advice

Can You Afford to Pursue Your Passion?

“Not everybody has to go to college to get a good job, but the real question to ask yourself is, what kind of college experience prepares me for lifelong learning? Begin to discern what your life mission is, combine that passion with tangible skill development, and then you’ve got something.

“Employers consistently report that the qualities they most desire in college graduates do not always correspond to specific training or degrees, but rather to habits and qualities of mind and being— areas the traditional liberal arts have been emphasizing

for generations.

“Internship opportunities are growing, and liberal arts majors are integrating career education and development into the four-year degree. Through Earlham’s EPIC program, every student is guaranteed a funded internship or research experience. Students are becoming more involved in real-world, place-based project work that builds tangible skills, which makes the liberal arts degree a better investment than ever.

“While student loan debt is a real concern, highly regarded and nationally ranked colleges and universities are often not the problem. When we consider that we think nothing of purchasing a car for $20,000 or more, possibly taking on debt for something that depreciates the second you drive it, it makes me wonder why we are so concerned with the debt associated with a proven long-term investment in a college degree.”

— Jay Roberts, Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs, Earlham College

Affordability Tip
Finish on Time
Stretching out your college career can be expensive. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education estimates that every additional year that students spend in college costs them at least $50,000 in tuition, fees, and lost wages.

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