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Tennessee ranks among nation's lowest grad debt

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (Times Free Press) -

Tennessee is one of the nation's best states when it comes to managing student debt, according to a new study, but a stunning amount of the state's graduates still struggle to find economic security.

NerdWallet, the San Francisco-based financial literacy website that completed the study, determined Tennessee's ranking based on 2011 graduates -- the newest public data available. Volunteer State students graduate with the sixth-lowest debt in the nation, nearly $6,000 less than the U.S. average of $26,600. And the debt load among grads from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is better yet -- $13,845, about half of the national average.

The report cites Tennessee's "generous" Hope Scholarship as a tremendous leg up in comparison to other states' funding opportunities -- nearby Georgia students graduate with $22,443 in debt, and Alabama's graduates are closer to the national average with $25,192.

However, compounding interest rates and wallowing job markets make it hard for students to make steady progress toward repayment in 2013, regardless of the debt amount itself. Students may be "better off," but hardly in a favorable spot.

Read more from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press

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