College graduates nationwide are celebrating new beginnings — first full-time job, first apartment, first 401(k) — plus a not-so-fun one: first student loan payment.
And depending on the state where you chose to study, you may be looking at a scarier loan balance than others.
Using data from the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), GoBankingRates broke down student loan debt by state. Taking first place in the contest you don't want to win: New Hampshire, where students who graduated from this state's four-year colleges owed an average of $36,101, and 76% of grads had debt of some kind.
Overall, the average debt for students who graduated in 2015 was $30,100, according to TICAS, and 68% of graduates had some kind of debt.
Here are the list's top-five states, which you may notice are all located in the Northeast:
States with Highest Student Loan Debt
1. New Hampshire; $36,101
2. Pennsylvania; $34,798
3. Connecticut; $34,773
4. Delaware; $33,849
5. Rhode Island; $32,920
The first non-Northeastern state on the list was Minnesota, in sixth place, where the average student loan debt was $31,526 and 70% percent of students graduated with debt.
So, what's driving tuition costs up in these states? GoBankingRates attributes a portion of it to the array of private colleges — and the steep price tags that come with them.
For lower student loan debt, you may want to look to the West, where seven of the 10 lowest states are located.
States with Lowest Student Loan Debt
50. Utah; $18,873
49. New Mexico; $20,193
48. California; $22,191
47. Wyoming; $22,683
46. Florida; $23,379
Whatever your loan balance, it can be a stressful and confusing process to make sure you're not only paying the correct amount each month, but that you're also handling your loans in the smartest way possible. These tips for new grads can help you get started.