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Debt Is Piling Up Faster for Most Graduate Students—but Not MBAs

A degree from one of Bloomberg Businessweek’s top 10 MBA programs will set you back more than $111,000 on average, at least before financial aid. If that kind of price tag causes you to break out in hives, you’re probably not a prospective MBA: New research shows the median debt load of a business school grad remained steady from 2004 to 2012, even as tuition costs increased, indicating that MBAs can generally afford the rising cost of a degree.

MBA grads’ static debt loads make them unique among graduates of advanced degree programs, according to research published on March 25 by the New America Foundation’s Education Policy Program. Median debt loads for graduate school borrowers increased to $57,600 in 2012, from an inflation-adjusted $40,209 in 2004, the study said. Over the same period, the debt load for the typical MBA borrower increased just $627, to $42,000. In contrast, the median debt load for a master of arts graduate rose to $58,539, from $37,965, according to the survey, while the debt load for the typical law student rose to $140,616, up from $88,634.