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Recent Illinois College Graduates Face Large Debts and High Unemployment

Illinois college seniors who graduated last year did so with an average debt of $23,885. The state ranked 18th nationally for the average student debt load from four-year institutions.

The information was compiled in a report by the Institute for College Access and Success titled Student Debt and the Class of 2010. The report considered both public and private nonprofit four-year institutions, and included both federal and private student loans.

The study highlighted the student loan burden of the graduates from several Illinois schools. Those who attended the University of Illinois at Chicago averaged $18,526 in loans. Of the public institutions, Governors State University had the lowest average student debt in the state of $2,828. The School of the Art Institute in Chicago had the highest of $39,306. Nationwide, student debt in 2010 rose five percent compared to 2009.

Recent graduates also face one of the highest unemployment rates in history. In Illinois unemployment hit 10 percent in September 2011, above the national average of 9.1 percent.

What if You Are Unable to Pay Your Student Loans?

Generally student loans cannot be eliminated in bankruptcy unless you can prove an "undue hardship" exists that will permanently prevent you from repaying your loans. Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, however, is still an option that may assist you financially.

Filing for Chapter 13 allows you to reorganize and consolidate your student loans and other debts into a workable monthly payment plan, and gives you some financial relief. A knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney can advise you of all your options and help you select the best course of action.

Source: WJBD, Illinois College Debt Tops Over $23,000 in Tough Job Market, 3 November 2011

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