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Graduate College with Zero Debt

Graduate College with Zero Debt - Clarke, who also earned his bachelor's degree from Washburn, this summer is taking the state certified public accountant and bar exams. He doesn't think his debt is outrageous, considering the cost of education today, but others might feel differently.

"It's scary," Clarke said. "A lot of people go into school and expect to make big money in jobs, but not every lawyer is going to a big firm."

The average pay last year for the 600 lawyers in Shawnee County was $42.03 per hour, or $87,422 per year, according to the 2005 Kansas Wage Survey published by the Kansas Department of Labor. But salaries for lawyers can start in the $35,000 to $40,000 range. It is common to see wages for public defenders at $40,000, lawyers said.

"I have seen jobs posted for $35,000," Clarke said. "I really got lucky because I have a job working at an accounting firm. I definitely don't regret it because I got a very good education for the money."

Jason Hunter/The Capital-Journal

Like many former college students, Brian Clarke, a graduate of the Washburn University School of Law, finds himself deep in debt because of student loans.

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With the CPA and law degree, he will earn $52,000 in a firm in Shawnee.

School debt has been climbing dramatically in recent years because of rising tuition and higher living expenses. Interest rates are going up 2 percentage points July 1, further driving up the cost of loans and education. It isn't uncommon to see graduate students rack up $75,000 to $100,000 in debt in Kansas.

The average debt load of the 106 graduates from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine this spring was $122,649, up $35,000 from a year ago. Many students also leave school with thousands of dollars in credit card debt, which carries high interest rates. Meanwhile, beginning wages for some jobs may not be enough to make the monthly payments. The average beginning wage for K-State veterinary graduates is $54,000.

Graduate College with Zero Debt

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