Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Oct 10, 2012

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A recent survey found that most admissions directors at both public and private colleges feel that it is perfectly acceptable for students to graduate with debt. The survey also found that public and private student loan debt in the five-figure range was deemed acceptable. Inside Higher Ed ran this latest survey, which was conducted by Gallup on their behalf, on Oct 3.

In the survey’s findings, only two percent of admissions directors believed that graduating without any student debt was a reasonable expectation.

According to the Project on Student Debt, a student-advocacy non-profit initiative of the Institute for College Access & Success, the average student graduates from a four-year program with roughly $25,250 in student loan debt—whether in the form of public or private student loans. 42 percent of admissions directors feel that graduating with debt in the range of $20,000 to $30,000 is very reasonable. 17 percent of admissions directors feel that graduating with debt in the range of $30,000 to $40,000 is also reasonable.

Admissions directors at private non-profit colleges usually approved of higher debt amounts when compared to the admissions directors at both public and community colleges. At private colleges, 50 percent of admissions directors feel that graduating with $20,000 to $30,000 in debt was appropriate while only 32 percent of public and community college advisors agreed.

None of the admission directors at community colleges believed that students should graduate with over $40,000 in college debt.

According to the survey, 47 percent of polled admissions directors feel that what students studied somewhat mattered in how much debt they acquired. 31 percent felt that it mattered very much.

The survey results found that the majority of admissions directors and both public and private four year colleges agreed that too many students were borrowing private student loans.

Private student loans have higher interest rates compared to their public counterparts. Similarly, they also have fewer options—such as deferment—when compared to public college loans.

Despite the fact that student loan debt currently outpaces all other public debts, it is the only type that is near impossible to discharge through bankruptcy proceedings. Congress has proposed bills which would add more disclosures to college loan contracts so as to inform students about how to avoid accumulating heavy debt burdens by the time they graduate.