Half of College Grads Surprised by Their High Debt

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Here’s one lesson not enough students are getting in college: Debt is easy to rack up and hard to destroy.

Half of 2013’s graduates were surprised by how much college-related debt they had acquired, according to a new Fidelity survey of 750 new grads.

It also found that more than one-third of students wish they had made different choices on their path to a degree, such as saving sooner, controlling costs better, and looking for more financial aid.

Some of them — 12 percent — regret their decision to go to college, CNN says.

Seventy percent of this year’s grads have college-related debt, the study says. The average amount: $35,200. That includes federal, state and private loans, plus debt owed to family and on credit cards.

Here’s what students did right, according to the study:

  • 85 percent contributed personal savings toward college costs. Among those who did, 27 percent contributed more than $10,000, and 81 percent held jobs to pay expenses.
  • 57 percent were thinking about what they would make after graduation and chose majors accordingly. The top five listed were business, biology, psychology, engineering and accounting.
  • 54 percent of grads have a financial plan of some sort in place, including making a budget and setting aside savings from their paychecks.

If you’re in college or know somebody who is, send them to the links below. We have lots of advice on managing student loans and avoiding them (as much as possible) in the first place.

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