As it turns out, these are not easy questions to answer. Metrics like consumer confidence, credit card debt, homeowner debt, unemployment and gross domestic product, all of which help us contextualize our financial situations, are readily available. Additionally, the data used to report these metrics are current. If not monthly, much of these data are reported quarterly. The numbers are annualized, sliced and diced, and contextualized in many ways by analysts, economists, politicians and academics on a continual basis.
So one might think that data about the average college loan debt carried by a 2013 graduate would be fairly easy to find. After all, it is an issue that is widely discussed across a variety of media, which often leads to a discussion about whether or not it is “worth it” to get a college degree.
Logically, someone interested in measuring the return on his or her investment in a college education would want to begin with a litmus test, a benchmark, some measure that answers the question, “How does the amount of debt I am carrying compare with the national average?”
Anyone looking for a number that can accurately answer this question, however, finds that it does not exist. We asked an expert why the data on student debt are so hard to find, and what that means for new graduates.
How Does Appalachian Compare?
With varying methods of analysis and reporting, it is virtually impossible to make accurate comparisons.