CCU grads have highest average debt in SC public schools

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Coastal Carolina University graduates had an average debt of $34,040 in 2012, the highest average of any public university in the state, and over $7,000 more than the state average. Seventy two percent of CCU graduates in 2012 had debt when they graduated.

The report, Student Debt and the Class of 2012, includes lists of high and low-debt states and colleges around the country and highlights significant differences among colleges and states. CCU was noted being one of 20 high-debt public universities in the country.

CCU says there are a lot of reasons why its students have an average of around $7,000 more than other public university grads in the state, and they also say they are committed to helping students manage that debt.

The school says more than 45 percent of its students come from out of state and therefore pay higher rates of tuition.

The history and culture of the university plays a role. Being that CCU is a relatively young institution, Coastal says it hasn't had time to develop the alumni base and large endowments like older universities that can offer more extensive need based financial aid and scholarships.

CCU also says a large amount of its students are first-generation college students and come from lower-income families without the financial resources to pay for tuition, room and board.

Those students are often forced to borrow the maximum allowable on a student loan. Regardless of the reasons, students say they feel the effects.

"I'm just trying to handle working full-time and going to school, and get the money, and finding a job that pays enough," says CCU senior Tyler Hill. "It's been difficult getting the money together."

The Project on Student Debt is an initiative of the Institute for College Access & Success, a nonprofit independent research and policy organization, ranked South Carolina 19th in the country for student debt with an average of $27,416.

National-level data from the project: Seven in 10 college seniors (71 percent) who graduated last year had student loan debt, with an average of $29,400 per borrower. From 2008 to 2012, debt at graduation (federal and private loans combined) increased an average of six percent each year.

Click here to view detailed data on all of South Carolina's educational institutions:

Click here to view the full report in PDF format:

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