March Money Madness: Round II

Our NCAA bracket below follows up on last week’s Tournament of Salaries, in which we compared all the schools in the NCAA tournament based on how much money graduates earn in their first few years out of college. This week, we’re looking at the other side of recent graduates’ budgets—student loans.

The data collected are from The Project on Student Debt, an initiative of the Institute for College Access & Success, a nonprofit independent research and policy organization dedicated to making college more available and affordable to people of all backgrounds. Data are from 2009.

Over the past decade, student debt has been a growing problem. According to the Project on Student Debt, 67 percent of students graduating from four-year colleges and universities in 2008 had student loan debt. And average debt levels for graduating seniors with student loans rose to $23,200 in 2008—a 24 percent increase from $18,650 in 2004. Federal data show that the student loan default rate in 2008 was eight percent. Many more graduates’ loans go into deferment or forbearance—that is, stretching repayment calendars for years.

The biggest winners, of course, are students whose schools do well in both brackets. By that standard, Princeton comes out on top with an average starting salary of  $51,204 and average student debt of $4,957.

Scroll down to see which long shot won the debt tournament—and how your university fared.

NCAA Debt Bracket