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Published November 16, 2011, 09:54 PM

UND Ranks #1 in Student Loan Debt

Student debt at the University of North Dakota is higher than any other school in the nation. Students find themselves wondering how they're going to pay loans off and keep interest low.

GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Student debt at the University of North Dakota is higher than any other school in the nation. Students find themselves wondering how they're going to pay loans off and keep interest low.

A new study was released ranking the University number one in loan debt and overwhelmed students say they're not surprised.

83% of UND students are faced with debt after graduation. And with a student population more than 11,000. Finding a student without debt is like finding a needle in a haystack.

"When I first came to college I knew it was going to be a large investment and I didn't anticipate exactly what the number would be and I was kind of surprised to hear that UND had such a high average," said student, Jonathon Musselwhite.

"There's definitely a lot of factors that contribute to the amount of debt we have here as students leaving UND," said Kylie Oversen, Student Body President.

"Am I concerned about it too? Yeah, nobody wants to have debt," said Musselwhite.

The University recognizes its debt problem and is finding ways to improve student loan knowledge.

"Students come to UND with inadequate knowledge of how to not only manage their student loans but really the basics of financial literacy," said Laurie Betting, Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness.

"That's why we've created these programs. Students don't understand the implication of taking out thousands upon thousands of dollars," said Oversen.

The hope is that these programs will educate students in understanding the financial burden college carries.

"We're reaching out to families as well and parents because we know that parents are in fact the major influence of our students decision making and really that will not only impact them at their time at UND but beyond," said Betting.

Although the burden may be heavy, staff and student leaders say in the end it's worth it.

One student said he will have 70,000 dollars of debt after graduation. The average is $45,000. Another student said, "there's tons of scholarship opportunities that many students don't take advantage of." One in particular was a duct-tape prom dress competition for incoming freshmen. Students can find these opportunities online.

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