Maine rated No. 2 for highest student debt average, NH tops list

Posted April 29, 2012, at 11:13 a.m.
Last modified April 29, 2012, at 12:39 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Amid a national debate over legislation to prevent the student loan rate from doubling, a former Vermont college student living in Maine says she knows firsthand what the issue is all about.

Amanda St. John, 32, told Maine Today Media she defaulted on more than $98,000 in student loans for her studies at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt. The York, Maine, native consolidated her debt and now makes $20 monthly payments, which don’t even cover the interest, she said.

St. John struggles to make larger payments, working part time at the Greater Portland Convention & Visitors Bureau in Maine.

“My credit is so bad,” she said, “I can’t conceive of buying a car or a house or even having a family.”

St. John may not be alone in northern New England. A nonprofit research group says New Hampshire had the highest average student debt load, followed by Maine at No. 2. Vermont was at No. 6, among 2010 graduates.

The Project on Student Debt’s sixth annual report found that students who graduated from four-year colleges in New Hampshire in 2010 had an average loan debt of $31,048, followed by Maine at $29,983. In Vermont, the average was the sixth-highest at $28,391. The study, released in December, found high-debt states concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest.

In New Hampshire, 74 percent of the 2010 college graduates carried student debt, the nation’s No. 2 ranking. In Maine, 68 percent of the state’s graduates had loans, for a No. 7 national ranking, according to the report. Vermont numbers were 66 percent for a No. 11 spot.

Legislation in Congress to prevent the rate on federally subsidized student loans from doubling for one year passed in the House on Friday. President Barack Obama has promised to veto the bill because it covers the $6 billion cost by eliminating preventive health care funding provided under the Affordable Care Act.

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