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Hawaii student debt second-lowest in the U.S.

By Erika Engle

LAST UPDATED: 2:17 a.m. HST, Aug 23, 2013

The average student debt in Hawaii is the second-lowest in the nation, according to a study by the NerdScholar unit of personal finance research company NerdWallet.

Hawaii ranks No. 1 as best state for student debt, however, as the Aloha State has the lowest percentage of students graduating with debt, at 38 percent.

NerdScholar attributed the low percentage to the low tuition costs offered by the University of Hawaii system, whose campuses accept low-income students. Some 40 percent of students at the UH Hilo campus in the 2010-2011 academic year were Pell Grant recipients, reflecting a commitment to students at all income levels, researchers said.

The average Hawaii student debt is $17,447, compared to students in Utah with an average of $17,227, but there, 45 percent of students graduate still owing money, NerdScholar found.

Hawaii’s overall student debt score was 0.72, compared with 7.78 in Utah, and compared to 91.11 in New Hampshire, which was declared the worst U.S. state for student debt. There, 75 percent of students graduate in debt, with an average amount of $32,440.

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