HUNTINGTON — West Virginia schools rank 24th in the nation for the amount of debt its students graduate with, with Marshall University coming in sixth out of the schools tallied in a recent LendEDU report.

By licensing data collected from the annual Peterson's voluntary financial aid survey, LendEDU, an online loan marketplace, completed its annual Student Loan Debt by School by State Report, a comprehensive analysis of student loan debt statistics for over 1,000 colleges and universities throughout the United States.

The total outstanding student loan debt now stands at $1.52 trillion, making it the second largest form of consumer debt behind only mortgages.

In terms of individual student debt, the average borrower from the Class of 2017 graduated with $28,288, an increase from $27,975 that the average Class of 2016 borrower was on the hook for.

In West Virginia, the average amount of debt per borrower for the Class of 2017 was $27,608 and 70 percent of students graduated with debt.

Of the 11 schools, both public and private, to submit data to Peterson's, Marshall came in at No. 6, with an average student loan debt per borrower being $28,095. Sixty-seven percent of Marshall students graduate with student loan debt.

Appalachian Bible College, a private institution, had the lowest average student loan debt per borrower at $15,421. Wheeling Jesuit University, also a private institution, had the highest average student loan debt at $32,428. West Virginia University ranked eighth with $29,358 in average loan debt.

"The reasonable debt incurred by most students to complete a college degree is generally considered 'good debt' because it will offer a good return on a student's investment in their future when considering increased future earnings," said Tammy R. Johnson, dean of admissions and executive director of enrollment services at Marshall.

"However, students should only borrow the minimum they need to cover their direct educational costs and basic living expenses, and work to pay back the loans as soon as possible. If they focus on those things, student loan debt is manageable."

Across the country, Utah had the lowest average student loan debt at $18,425, while Pennsylvania had the highest at $36,193. Kentucky schools have an average of $28,078, just below West Virginia, while Ohio had an average of $29,723.

The full report by LendEDU can be found at https://lendedu.com/blog/average-student-loan-debt-statistics#WV.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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