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N.C. Students Have Enough College Debt To Buy 20 Llamas

North Carolina's students are graduating with more debt than ever before.

The average student graduating from a public, or private-non-profit school will graduate with $23,893 dollars in debt. In 2008, the average student had just $18,000 in debt.

We wondered...just what could you buy with $24,000?

How about a Toyota Camry L with keyless entry?

Or perhaps you prefer more than 1,700 bottles of wine from GlenMarie Vineyardsin Burlington, NC.

15 - 20 Llamas from Four Ladies and Me Llama Farmin East Bend, NC?

How about season tickets (in a 50 yard line box) to the Carolina Panthers... for 5 years.

Or maybe you'd choose an entire extra year of education at N.C. State University.


And not only is there more debt, there are more people graduating with that debt - up from 55% to 59%.

Lauren Asher, President of The Institute for College Access and Success, chalks some of that gain up to depleting public assistance.

"While the Pell Grant has seen recent increases," said Asher, " covers the lowest share of the average cost of going to a public 4 year college, in the history of the program: less than 1/3rd. So even if you receive a Pell Grant in the full amount when your income is very low, that's only covering 1/3rd of what it costs to be at a public four year college."

The good news is that North Carolina is still among the lowest states when it comes to student debt. The national average is about $29,000.

"But nearly 24,000 dollars is still a substantial amount of debt", said Asher. "And more than people were owing graduating with four years ago."

Eric Mennel prepares the afternoon/evening "drive time" newscast on WUNC. Previously, he was a producer for The Story with Dick Gordon. Eric has reported for All Things Considered, This American Life, 99% Invisible and other radio programs. He covered protests and security measures at the 2012 Republican National Convention for WUSF Tampa and NPR News. One day, he hopes to own a home with a wrap-around porch.
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