My parents had it pretty easy. Actually, I'm the one who had it easy because my parents built a college fund for me that they started long before I was even born. I say that they had it easy because I only used about $2,500 of the money before landing a radio job and dropping out. They used the rest to see the world.

However, for most parents and their kids, going on to college after high school (or even going back on your own years later) means getting a student loan. Also for many, that means years and years of paying it back. According to a new study, Illinoisans will be paying that money back longer than a good percentage of the country.

A website I often lean on for numbers-crunching is personal-finance site "WalletHub." They frequently compare the 50 states and the District of Columbia to see which states are better or worse than others when it comes to jobs, safety, gas prices, costs, etc.

WalletHub's latest comparison is "2017's States with the Most and Least Student Debt." In this study, WalletHub looked at:

50 states and the District of Columbia based on 10 key measures of indebtedness and earning opportunities. Our data set ranges from average student debt to unemployment rate among the population aged 25 to 34 to share of students with past-due loan balances.

Except for mortgages, student loans make up the largest component of household debt for Americans. And our collective debt keeps growing. At the end of the first quarter of 2017, total outstanding college-loan balances disclosed on credit reports stood at $1.34 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The latest figure represents an increase of $34 billion since the end of 2016.

First, the 5 states with the least amount of student debt:

1) Ohio

2) Mississippi

3) Pennsylvania

4) West Virginia

5) New Hampshire

Next, the 5 states carrying the most amount of student debt:

47) Nevada

48) California

49) Wyoming

50) Utah

51) Hawaii

Illinois shows up on the list as the 14th worst state for student debt. Wisconsin is the 18th worst, Michigan is 7th worst, Minnesota is 8th, Iowa is 9th, Indiana is 10th, and Missouri is the 13th worst state for student debt.

Student Debt in Illinois (1=Most; 25=Avg.)
19th – Avg. Student Debt
8th – Proportion of Students with Debt
19th – Student Debt as % of Income (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
6th – Unemployment Rate of Population Aged 25 to 34
19th – % of Student-Loan Borrowers Aged 50+
13th – Grant Growth

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