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Thursday
May162013

College Class of 2013 Racks Up Debt of $35,200

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The brutal rise in college costs over the past decade is leading students to take on an unprecedented amount of debt.  Indeed, the class of 2013 is graduating with debt that averages $35,200, according to a new study by Fidelity.

That figure, which includes federal, state and private loans, as well as debt owed to family and accumulated through credit cards, applied to the 70 percent of graduates who left school with college-related debt.

Even though the rise in college costs, which have outpaced inflation by 5 percentage points annually over the past decade, is well known, it caught many students by surprise.  

Fidelity said half of the students they polled with student loans were surprised by how much debt they had accumulated.  And 39 percent said they would have made different choices about college had they realized the extent of their debt burden.

“The number of graduates reporting surprise by the level of student debt they have accumulated is a big concern and shows that there is a considerable need for families to better understand the total cost of college,” Keith Bernhardt, vice president of college planning at Fidelity Investments, said in a statement.

“It is critically important for families to have thorough discussions related to college planning a lot earlier than they do now, and to understand their options and create a college savings and funding plan to help avoid significant post-graduation debt,” he continued.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio