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More student loan borrowers carry six-figure balances

The average college graduate leaves school $30,000 in the red today, up from $10,000 in the 1990s. Yet the share of borrowers with balances in the six-figures is on the rise.

Elisha Bokman’s student loan balance is $499,322.69.

The share of borrowers with balances in the six-figures is on the rise.

Around 178,000 students graduated owing more than $100,000 in the 2015-2016 academic year, up from 51,000 in 2003-2004, according to Mark Kantrowtiz, the publisher of SavingForCollege.com.

Elisha Bokman has been out of school for eight years. Still, her student loan balance is half a million dollars.

Today, for her doctorate degree in naturopathic medicine and master’s in acupuncture from Bastyr University, she owes $499,322.69.

She and her husband struggled to buy a house because of her debt. Eventually, the financial stress led them to a divorce. “He felt like he couldn’t live his life or do the things he wanted to do,” Bokman, 38, said. She wanted to open her own medical practice, but she said her student debt prevents her from getting a business loan.

“It really effects the remainder of your life,” Bokman said. “There’s no out.”

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