ALBANY – Student-loan debt in New York averaged $32,200 last year, double what it was a decade ago, a report Tuesday found.
The report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said New York’s student-loan debt grew from $39 billion to $82 billion over the past decade.
The college loans for New Yorkers outpaced the national average, which was $29,700 last year, DiNapoli said based on a review of state and federal data.
He said the debt hurts the state's economy.
"New Yorkers saddled with college debt have less disposable income and often have to push off buying a home or saving for the future," DiNapoli said in a statement.
Student loans accounted for 11 percent of New Yorkers' debt last year as the cost to attend college has soared, and the highest debt in New York was found largely in New York City and its suburbs, the report said.
Over the past decade, the tuition, fees, room and board for colleges in New York grew by more than 50 percent.
For SUNY colleges -- which have increased tuition $300 each year for the past five years -- the total cost a year rose from $13,275 in the 2005-06 school year to $20,549 in 2014-15 school year.
For private colleges, the price tag jumped from $32,478 to $48,845 over the past decade.
The growing cost of college became an issue at the state Capitol this year.
SUNY again sought a five-year extension of its ability to raise tuition by $300 a year. But the effort was rejected by the state Legislature.
So SUNY tuition will stay flat next fall at $6,470 a year.
Manhattan had the highest college debt, DiNapoli's review of state and federal data showed.
The average student loan borrower had a balance of $44,500 in Manhattan, followed by an average of $36,000 in the lower Hudson Valley.
In the mid-Hudson Valley, which includes the Poughkeepsie area, the debt was about $30,200 and was nearly $30,000 in the Ithaca area, which is home to Cornell University and Ithaca College.
The debt averaged $29,500 for residents who live in the Rochester area, which is home to a number of colleges, including the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Binghamton had a student loan debt average of about $28,000, while in Utica and Elmira it was $26,400.
The Buffalo-Niagara region had a student loan debt average of $28,700.
"I went to college at SUNY Oswego," says Kaili Morris. "Ultimately, I graduated with a degree in anthropology and creative writing."
"I went to SUNY Fredonia. I got my Bachelor of Science in video production and audio production," says Kearsten Nadrich.
Morris and Nadrich both grew up in Western New York and now like most college grads, their diplomas came with student loan debt.
“Right now, I have to pay back just under $40,000," says Morris.
"I graduated in 2014, so it's only two years later, so I owe about $80,000," says Nadrich.
Nadrich told us she has to repay a $60,000 Parent Plus loan, which are federal loans that parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for college. She adds she has $20,000 in unsubsidized loans. Both were used to pay for tuition, room and board, and textbooks. In addtion, Nadrich says her program required a minor outside of her major or that she study abroad for a semester. She chose to spend a semester in Ireland.
One of the reasons the women chose SUNY schools was because of the lower tuition. If you go to a private college, you can expect to pay even more. Tuition for a year at Canisius is just under $34,000. Keep in mind that does not include room and board, student fees, books and personal expenses.
"By the end of it, I was still very shocked at how much I had accumulated over the four years. But when I first walked into it, my parents and I made an agreement. They said you can go where you want, do whatever program you want, but you accept responsibility for your loans after," says Nadrich.
Nadrich is making a student loan payment of $450 a month, that’s the same as her rent. She's also working one full time and two part time jobs.
Morris took a different approach.
"Right now, I'm in a small town called Merzig, Germany. It's in southwestern Germany," says Morris.
Morris works as an au pair for a family with three children. She doesn't have to start paying her student loans back yet.
"So I have to make much, much, much more money than I am before I can even be taxed by the American system. So I didn't move here explicitly with the intention of not paying my student loans, but it definitely was helpful to know that I could do a lot of the things I wanted to do while taking a break from school and not have that looming over my head," says Morris.
Morris plans on going to grad school and is going to work on paying down her interest while abroad.
These young women do not have any regrets about their education. They both knew they'd have debt after they graduated.