2023 HIGH SCHOOL GRADS COULD TAKE ON $37K IN COLLEGE DEBT By Elizabeth Renter As millions of Americans with federal student loan debt hang in the balance, waiting to learn whether some of what they owe will be forgiven, the machine that has churned out this debt for decades is ready to welcome a new class of college students. This year’s high school graduates could take on $37,300 in student loan debt in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, according to NerdWallet analysis of data from the Department of Education. These graduates-turned-freshmen may not see alarming tuition increases, but any improvements won’t compensate for the doubling of higher education costs over the past 30 years. Costs are down, but potential student loan debt is still excessive The average tuition, fees, room and board at public four-year colleges was $23,250 in the 2022-2023 school year, down 5.4% from the year prior after adjusting for inflation, according to the latest data from the College Board. College costs have been growing more slowly for a decade now, and decreasing for the past few years. These lower costs are reflected in how much students are borrowing. New college freshmen may take on less debt than those who began their college careers just a few years ago, but not by much. Using the latest data available on college costs and average loans, 2023 high school graduates could borrow as much as $37,300 over a five-year undergraduate career. This is down slightly from 2022 graduates, who were looking at a possible $39,500 in student loan debt. New student tip: Costs should always be a consideration in deciding whether or where to attend college, but finding those numbers can seem difficult. Colleges and universities should publish the cost of attendance on their websites. This number includes tuition, fees, room and board (meals), books and even some personal expenses. It doesn’t include financial aid. For that, look for the school’s net price calculator, and reach out to its financial aid office or an admissions counselor if you can’t find it. This will help you get a more precise estimate on how much you can expect to pay out of pocket at a school and makes comparing somewhat easier.
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