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February 20th, 2013
Liberal arts colleges

Fancy Art Colleges Rack Up Most Student Debt

Most people assume a degree in the arts is no guarantee of riches. Now there is evidence that such graduates also rack up the most student-loan debt.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of new Department of Education data shows that median debt loads at schools specializing in art, music and design average $21,576, which works out to a loan payment of about $248 a month. That is a heavy burden, considering that salaries for graduates of such schools with five or fewer years' experience cluster around $40,000, according to PayScale.com.

The data also show that graduates of research universities tend to carry less debt than those of liberal-arts colleges. Median debt loads average $19,445 for liberal-arts schools, versus $18,100 for research universities.

The figures are based on the amount of federal education loans in 2010-11; they include those taken out by students and their parents, but consist of only students for whom there is borrowing. That group is growing. Almost 67% of college students who graduated in 2012 had loans, up from 63% a decade ago, estimates Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.com, a financial-aid website.

President Obama called for colleges to rein in their costs during his State of the Union address Tuesday night. But new data show those who attend schools with lower tuition often end up paying in other ways [books, room & board, fraternity or sorority fees, etc].

This news shouldn't come as a surprise to people.  If you go to a fancy liberal arts college and study something fun like art history, you're going to graduate with a lot of debt before moving onto your career as a waiter or bartender.  

-W&J's Producer

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