State-by-state debt comparisons show that graduates in Connecticut were stuck with the highest amount of debt in 2016; about 38,510 U.S. dollars on average. This may be due to the prevalence of high-cost, private institutions on the east coast. New Mexico and Utah had the lowest debt records at 21,237 U.S. dollars and 18,838 U.S. dollars respectively. Many students try to avoid debt by applying for student aid. Federal loans provide the majority of financial aid, followed by grants coming from the educational institutions themselves.
In the academic year of 2017/18, around 28.23 billion U.S. dollars worth of Pell Grants were distributed to students across the United States. Pell Grants are distributed to students from low-income families to relieve some of the burden of educational costs, usually covering around 30 percent of total costs. These grants must not be paid back. Many find this program controversial, as middle class American families tend to earn too much money for their children to be eligible, while not earning enough to comfortably cover the cost of higher education.