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September 23, 2014

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Nevada college students graduate with less debt than most

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Sam Morris

Students flip their tassels during UNLV’s commencement Saturday, May 12, 2012.

2011 UNLV Spring Graduation

Kendra Jones smiles as she spots her family in the stands during UNLV's spring commencement ceremony Saturday, May 14, 2011 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »

UNLV 50th Graduation

Emily Black, representing entertainment engineering's first graduating class, flies over the crowd during the ceremony on May 12, 2012. (Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services) Launch slideshow »

Nevada has the third lowest student debt level in the nation, according to college financial aid website NerdWallet.com.

NerdWallet.com looked at student debt levels at four-year public and private colleges in 47 states and calculated its list of the “best and worst states for student debt,” based on the average debt per student and the percentage of graduates with debt.

The website used data from The Institute for College Access and Success, Peterson’s College Guide and US News and World Report. Alaska, Delaware and New Mexico were excluded from the list because of insufficient data.

Nevada ranked third best in the nation for student debt, according to NerdWallet.com. Although 44 percent of Nevada students graduate with student loan debt, their average debt burden is $19,954 — about $6,000 lower than the national average of $26,000.

NerdWallet.com credited Nevada’s merit- and need-based scholarship programs, as well as financial literacy classes to help students understand the cost of college and differences between federal and private loans.

Hawaii was named the best state in the nation for student debt, with 38 percent of its students graduating with an average student loan debt of $17,447.

Hawaii was followed by Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, Louisiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Wyoming to round out the top 10 best states for student debt.

New Hampshire was named the worst state nationally for student debt, with 75 percent of students graduating with an average student loan debt of $32,440.

New Hampshire was followed by North Dakota, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Rhode Island, Ohio, Connecticut, Maine and South Dakota to round out the bottom 10 states for student debt.

Over the past three decades, the cost of getting a college degree has risen by more than 1,000 percent, according to Washington, D.C., think tank Center for American Progress. Last year, student debt in America exceeded $1 trillion — higher than the nation’s credit card debt.

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