South Carolina is No. 1 in the nation, and not in a good way.
South Carolina leads the nation for the amount of average median student debt that graduates have accumulated upon completing a degree, according to the careers site Zippia.
In South Carolina, graduates usually leave school with an average median debt of $26,535. Pennsylvania is second with $26,084, Alabama is third with $25, 917. North Carolina came in at No. 5 with $25,590 and Georgia was ranked No. 10 with $24,808 average median student debt.
What state had the least amount of average median student debt? Utah, with "only" $16,349.
South Carolina has six schools — including Columbia’s Benedict College and Allen University — in the top 50 overall nationwide for student debt.
An interactive map at the Urban Institute shows Richland, Allendale, Bamberg, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties have the highest percentages of student debt within the state. The Urban Institute data shows that the national and overall South Carolina percentages of the population with student loan debt is not too far off — 16 percent nationally, 17 percent in S.C.
But in Richland County — home to Benedict College, Allen University and the University of South Carolina — 25 percent of the population is living with student debt.
In compiling the list of states with the highest median debt for graduates, Zippia focused on predominantly bachelor-degree granting universities — no community colleges, certificate-granting institutions or things of that nature — and eliminated private, for-profit schools from the study.
Also, Zippia points out that “the average median student debt does not represent the state median, but instead is an average of medians of colleges in that state.”
The numbers represent only students who completed their studies because, Zippia states, “at institutions where large numbers of students withdraw before completion, a lower median debt level could simply reflect the lack of time that a typical student spends at the institution.”