In terribly unsurprising news, student loan borrowers in the class of 2016 are going to graduate with a record level of debt, according to a new report. This year’s magic number is $37,172 — among the roughly 70% of students who will graduate with loans, that’s the average amount of debt they have.
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The figures reported by come from an analysis conducted by Mark Kantrowitz, a higher education and student loan debt expert. Like other, similar analyses, Kantrowitz’s estimates of average education debt have gone up with every new graduating class for more than a decade. There’s little reason to believe the class of 2017 would be an exception to this unpleasant trend.
Wages haven’t kept pace with growing student loan debt (though the starting salary for college grads has gone up recently), but regardless of what their first jobs end up paying, borrowers have to find a way to stay on top of their loans. Considering that a person’s ability to repay student loan debt has a significant bearing on their credit scores, and as a result, their financial future, this ever-climbing average debt figure can be really scary for future students. (We recently wrote about a high school student who chose to not attend her dream school purely because of the debt she’d have to take on to do it.)
Ideally, students can find a way to minimize their debts by choosing cheaper schools, finding scholarships, earning college credit in high school or working to pay some education expenses, but even those strategies often aren’t enough to pay for college without student loans. No matter what your student loan situation looks like, keep in mind that there are some repayment options that might make your debt more manageable. By making your loan payments on time every month, you can build good credit, which will come in handy if you ever want to get an auto loan or a mortgage — that is, once you’ve paid off that soul-crushing education debt, of course.
You can keep track of how your student loan debt and other credit accounts affect your credit by getting two free credit scores every month on Credit.com.
This article originally appeared on Credit.com.
Christine DiGangi is a reporter and editor for Credit.com, covering a variety of personal finance topics. Her writing has been featured on USA Today, MSN, Yahoo! Finance and The New York Times International Weekly, among other outlets. More by Christine DiGangi