Cal State Long Beach students

Cal State Long Beach students navigate the campus. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

California students who borrowed money while completing their college degrees last year had about $20,000 in debt, the second-lowest figure in the nation, according to a study released Wednesday morning.

The average U.S. undergraduate who took out loans for higher education and graduated in 2012 owed $29,400, according to the report by the Institute for College Access & Success, a nonprofit.

Delaware students incurred the most debt, nearly $33,600, followed by students in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, the study found. Undergraduates in New Mexico owed the least with just under $18,000.

Even though tuition at California state colleges and universities has climbed in the last decade, it has held steady recently.

The study examined federal data from all four-year colleges and information from public and nonprofit four-year schools that voluntarily provided debt data.

[For the Record, 12:30 p.m., Dec. 4, 2013: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the study examined only data from public and nonprofit four-year schools that voluntarily provided debt data.]

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