How bright is their future? Students at Barnard College's graduation ceremony last May. Timothy A. Clary /AFP/Getty Images hide caption itoggle caption Timothy A. Clary /AFP/Getty Images The Two-Way Tough Times, Even Higher Debts For College Graduates October 18, 2012 Two-thirds of graduates left college last year with student loans hanging over their heads. The average amount they owed was $26,600, up 5 percent from the previous year. Nearly 9 percent of the graduates were unemployed and 19.1 percent were working part time or had given up looking for a job.