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Class of 2010 average student debt load: $25,250

The college graduating class of 2010 faced a sobering economy upon their release into the professional world. High unemployment and the highest average debt load on record offered a discouraging depiction of the state of the economy, particularly for entry-level professionals. According to a report released this week by the Project on Student Debt, college students who graduated in 2010 owing an average of $25,250. Such credit decisions contributed to a 5 percent increase over the class of 2009 and the highest student debt on record. "Every year, we've seen a growth and a rise in student debt levels for recent grads," Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access and Success, told the Huffington Post. "The cost of college has outpaced family income and available grant aid for quite awhile now. And we're seeing this reflected in student debt rates at graduation." Coupled with high unemployment, the heavy debt imposed on recent graduates may contribute to further generational disillusionment and alienation, as young professionals postpone critical life decisions and purchases such as buying a home or starting a family.