Student loan debt is biggest concern among the college-bound

The graduation cap says it all at the Centenary College commencement ceremony last year in Hackettstown, N.J.
(Matt Smith / Associated Press)

High school seniors are more worried about burdensome student-loan debt than about getting into the college of their dreams.

That’s the upshot from the annual “College Hopes and Worries” survey from the Princeton Review, a test-preparation and educational services company.

Thirty-eight percent of students surveyed listed “level of debt incurred to pay for the degree” as their primary concern.


That edged out the top answer the previous three years, which was getting into their preferred school but not being able to afford it or get enough financial aid. This year, 33% listed that as their biggest worry.

The high percentage for the two answers, both financially related, demonstrate how significantly thinking has changed among the college-bound.

In 2009, the top concern was simply about getting accepted to a first-choice school.

That seems to be almost an afterthought today. Just 1 in 5 students -- 22% -- ranked that as their biggest fear.

The heightened awareness of college costs and resulting debt is probably good in the long run. But it certainly takes a lot of the fun out of dreaming about college.


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Follow Walter Hamilton on Twitter @LATwalter