COLUMBIA, Mo. - Starting Friday, 6,000 students plan to walk across the stage at the University of Missouri graduation ceremonies.
As they pick up their diplomas, they also take home an expensive tab.
On Thursday, Fidelity Investments reported the average debt for a 2013 graduate is more than $35,000, while the average debt of an MU graduate is closer to $19,000.
This February, the MU Board of Curators agreed to raise in-state tuition nearly two percent starting this summer.
Increasing tuition rates and fees are making more students turn to loans to help afford a college education.
One student graduating in December will need to pay off more loans than the average Mizzou graduate.
"I know my family has been helping out but it's still pretty concerning for me and I don't really know where I'mgoing to start with that," said Cyrus Miller.
A medical school graduate is in a similar boat.
Matthew Witthaus has enough loans that cost more than some Mid-Missouri homes.
"I have $155,000 loans for med school and that's not including the $15,000 of interest I got over the four years of school," Witthau said. "So that's a lot of money, more than some people will be paying for a house."
Ryan Law, MU financial adviser, says these numbers don't surprise him.
"Tuition has been rising in the US latelyand so students are having to take out more and more debt in order to do that," Law said.
Some recent graduates will be force to choose a new career path because of the accumulated debt.
"The reality of having $20,000 or more in debt, you have to have a job that can repay that. So sometimes it does limit career possibilities for some people and they end up doing something they don't want to do but have to because they have the debt," Law said.
Students and MU officials unanimously agree tuition and textbooks are what students spend the most money on.
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