Drowning in Debt: Liberal Arts Graduates

You’ve heard of starving artists. There may be one in your family. According to a new study of Education Department data, there's a reason they are going hungry, and it’s thanks to college debt.

Consider this: student debt loads. At schools where students study Art, Music and Design, the average debt is $21,600, which is a loan payment of $250 a month. Even after five years of jobs experience, it’s a heavy burden for grads that make roughly $40,000 a year. Think about it. Harvard, MIT, or Yale has a better comparison because students are borrowing less and are earning more after graduation.           

The highest average debt load of all the 4,000 colleges and universities in the federal data base is The Creative Center in Omaha, Nebraska. The profit for schools that offer a three-year Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts has the highest average debt load at just over $52,000. That degree earned previous graduates a salary of just $31,400 a year.

Most financial aid calculators estimate that a graduate will need to pull down at least $43,000 to make the $360 a month payments. Starting your post-college career with such an albatross is just bad news.

But the Arts schools are the biggest debt collectors. Check out this list:

We told you about the Creative Center. Well, there is also the Manhattan School of Music where the median debt is $47,000. The debt for Southern California Institute of Architecture is $42,750. The South isn't exempt either. Students at Morehouse College in Georgia carry nearly $42,000 in debt.

The study we are citing emphasizes graduates of Liberal Arts schools, and to be sure, they face the toughest time making their degree’s pay. The idea of comparing how much your aspiring college graduate can earn with the degree they want to get and how much they will have to pay in monthly loan costs is a good idea for everyone getting into school.     

According to one estimate, the average student graduates with $26,000 worth of debt. Paying that off will likely delay when your grad can buy a house, get married or have kids.

To get more detailed information on college costs and to make comparisons, Check out Collegescorecard.org, a new website from the Department of Education developed to help college prospects see the whole picture.