MORE DEGREES, MORE DEBT.

 
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As more students turn to higher education to further their careers, student debt levels have soared. As of 2018, at least 1.2 million North Carolinians have outstanding student loans. The total debt level, including federal and private loans, reached $44 billion last year, a 286% increase from $15.4 billion in 2008, according to Durham-based nonprofit research firm Center for Responsible Lending. Nationally, North Carolina has had the second-highest increase in student debt over the last decade, credit reporting agency Experian PLC says. Roughly 57% of N.C.'s 2017 bachelor's degree recipients graduated with an average of $26,526 in student loan debt compared to 53% with an average of $16,388 in 2005.

Caption: CAROLINAS INDEX: The Carolinas Index is an equal weighted index composed of the 75 largest companies in the Carolinas based on market value.

Caption: Caption: TAXABLE RETAIL SALES (BILLION)

RESIDENTIAL BUILDING PERMIT VALUATIONS (million) (YEAR TO DATE) JULY-19 JULY-18 % CHANGE ASHEVILLE...

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