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Graduates' average student loan debt continues to climb

For many people, the idea of graduating from college seems to open up a whole host of possibilities. People pursue college degrees in order to begin a solid career path. With the realities of a recovering economy and job market, however, eager graduates may find it tough to find a job that pays adequately.

Not only do graduates need income to keep up with regular expenses, but a new study shows that most also have to worry about keeping up on student loan payments. The Institute for College Access & Success' Project on Student Debt reported that 66 percent of 2012 graduates in Massachusetts have loan debt, which is actually slightly below the national average.

Not only did the organization's study take a look at how many of 2012's college graduates have student loan debt, but it also measured average debt loads. Between 2011 and 2012 graduates, the national average debt load climbed by slightly less than $3,000 to $29,400. The institute attributes these increases to tuition hikes and the decreasing ability of families to contribute to college-related costs.

Dealing with student loan debt immediately after graduation might seem absolutely overwhelming, particularly as students may need additional time to find stable employment. As such, it may be necessary to seek out debt relief.

Under current laws, student loan debt cannot be included in personal bankruptcy filings. This may initially seem to rule out Chapter 7 bankruptcy as a viable option. However, it may be helpful to consider the totality of a person's financial circumstances. By filing for Chapter 7, a person can clear many other types of debt. As a result, this could offer much-needed relief and provide the kind of financial leverage a person needs to be able to manage monthly student loan payments.

Bankruptcy law is known to be rather complex. Gaining an understanding of all available debt relief tools can help a person find a path toward financial stability.

Source: CNN Money, "Average student loan debt: $29,400," Blake Ellis, Dec. 5, 2013

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