Indiana students who graduated from public and private not-for-profit colleges with bachelor's degrees in 2013 left school with an average debt of $28,000, according to a new report.
That per-student figure was the 16th highest among the 50 states, according to The Project on Student Debt report put out by The Institute for College Access & Success. It also found that 62 percent of Indiana's 2013 graduates left college with some debt, giving the state the 21st-highest such percentage in the nation, the Evansville Courier & Press reported.
Indiana's average college student debt for 2013 graduates was $28,466, slightly higher than the national average of $28,400 for graduates with bachelor's degrees, the report found.
The institute is an independent nonprofit group that is working to make higher education more affordable and available to people of any background. Matthew Reed, the institute's program director and co-author of the report, said the debt averages it lists are limited to public and nonprofit colleges, which award most four-year degrees, because nearly all for-profit colleges decline to disclose their graduates' debt.
"Only with comprehensive, reliable data for every college will we see the full picture of student debt," Reed said in a written statement. "This is too important an issue for students, schools and policymakers to rely on voluntary, self-reported data."
The Indiana college with the highest student debt in 2013 was the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The Terre Haute school had an average student graduate debt of $42,967, according to the report. Butler University was second with an average 2013 student debt of $34,928.
The University of Southern Indiana had the second-lowest debt level among Indiana's universities at $24,685 for 2013 graduates.
Mark Rozewski, the Evansville school's vice president for finance and administration, said a college education, regardless of whether a student graduates with loan debt, puts those graduates in a better position than those who only graduated from high school.
"When you look at what you're buying with a college education, you're buying obviously a lot of knowledge, but you're also buying the near certainty that you will make more money than a high school graduate," Rozewski said.