Iowa ranks #19 on list of states with most student loan debt

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Student loan debt is at an all-time high in the U.S., totaling $1.4 trillion- and matters are only getting worse for most.

In the last ten years, student debt has increased by 152 percent, according to Credit Sesame, making student loans the second largest source of household debt for Americans, only behind mortgages.

On a new list compiled by Credit Sesame, of all 50 states and Washington D.C., Iowa ranked #19 on the list of states with the most student loan debt.

TV9 also pulled state numbers from Iowa College Aid.

It found graduates from Iowa's three public universities walk away with an average of $27,313 in debt when they get their diploma. That total is actually down a couple hundred dollars from 2010.

But graduates of private colleges walk away with an average of $33,878 in debt, up more than $5,000 from 2010 ($28,941).

From what some financial offices told TV9, students at times may not realize some of the scholarships or grants available to them.

While financial planners from some area schools were not necessarily surprised, they did say one of the most important factors in guiding a student or family, is to guide them early- throughout their education.

"We work with the students and families when we can, as early on, with arming them with information so that they can make informed decisions throughout the four years that a student is here," said Mark Munson, Student Financial Planner at the University of Dubuque.

Munson said he holds classes on campus at the University of Dubuque to prepare students on their financial situations after school to avoid surprises come graduation.

The main piece of advice they gave to students was to ask questions once they are accepted.

"I would recommend that they go to the college that they are most interested in and ask to meet with somebody," said Julie Dunn, Director of Financial Planning at Loras College. "To sit down and to personally to talk through their financial aid award letter so they understand what's expected, what renews, what they need to do to keep the aid consistent."

Dunn said one of the things they have implemented in recent years at Loras College is meeting with families and students one-on-one so they can best understand what their financial package includes.

Both Munson and Dunn agreed the best way to help a student is to sit down and talk about it. They said it helps them find scholarships and grants, that some students may not have realized were available to them.