College students across Nevada are heading back to campus this month to pursue their higher education goals. Many of them will go into debt to finance their tuition, rent and other expenses of attending college. These costs are considered an investment toward realizing the greater employment and economic opportunities provided by a college degree. Yet for many college graduates across the nation, especially those who finished school during the nation’s worst economic crisis in eight decades, student loan debt has instead served as a roadblock to establishing financial independence in early adulthood. However, in Nevada the student debt trends run counter to the national narrative, as Silver State students leave college with far less debt than most of their peers around the country.

Across the United States, the collegiate class of 2014 graduated with an average student loan debt balance of $28,950 (a 2 percent increase from 2013), according to an analysis by The Institute for College Access and Success of student debt for graduates of public and private nonprofit four-year institutions. Nevada student debt averaged $20,211, which ranked as the third-lowest in the country behind only Utah and New Mexico. On the high end of the student debt spectrum were East Coast states Delaware, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, each of which carried average student debt loads of more than $33,000. Nevada also performed well in terms of the proportion of students graduating with college debt. Nationally, seven in 10 graduates had loans to pay off, while in Nevada less than half of the 2014 class (46 percent) graduated with debt. That rate tied with Wyoming for lowest in the country.

Click here to download the report and read more.