Student loan debt grew faster in SC than all other states, report says

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In his State of USC address, president Harris Pastides said he doesn't want to raise tuition this year.
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In his State of USC address, president Harris Pastides said he doesn't want to raise tuition this year.

Student loan debt has quadrupled in South Carolina, growing at a faster rate than any state in the last 10 years, according to a new report from Experian.

From 2008 to 2018, student loan debt in South Carolina increased from $5.6 billion to 23.1 billion, the report said. No other state grew by that much. North Carolina’s student loan debt grew the second-fastest in the last decade, with debt going from $11.9 billion to $41.9 billion, according to the report.

Experian is one of the country’s largest credit reporting companies. The report attributes that data to Experian, but does not describe the report’s methods. A spokeswoman said the report is sourced from a sampling of Experian’s consumer credit database.

The study’s results are consistent with a 2015 report from The Institute of College Access and Success that found student loan debt rates in S.C. increased faster than all but three states between 2004 and 2014.

Student loan debt grew in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Student debt grew the slowest in Vermont, increasing from $1.7 billion to $2.9 billion, according to the report. Americans owe more to payoff student loans than they do to pay off their credit cards or their cars, the report said. The only type of debt Americans have more of is mortgage debt, the report shows. But what makes student loan debt so debilitating is students can’t discharge it in bankruptcy.

The average South Carolinian who borrows money for college has $26,535 in debt, according to a 2018 Zippia study.

Experian is just one of many companies that have tried to show how the $1.4 trillion student loan debt crisis (or $1.5 trillion depending on the source) is affecting college graduates.

In the last four years, multiple studies have shown that student loan debt has been harder on South Carolinians than those in other states. For example, a 2018 WalletHub study found South Carolina had the 14th highest amount of student loan debt. A 2018 Simple Thrifty Living study found college costs more in South Carolina, when compared to median income, than any other state.

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Lucas Daprile has been covering the University of South Carolina and higher education since March 2018. Before working for The State, he graduated from Ohio University and worked as an investigative reporter at TCPalm in Stuart, FL. There, where he won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for his political and environmental coverage.