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U.S. college student borrowers, debt rise last year: N.Y. Fed

Students take their seats for the diploma ceremony at the John F. Kennedy School of Government during the 361st Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts May 24, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

NEW YORK (Reuters) - More U.S. students continued to borrow larger sums for their college education last year, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, while total student loan balances tripled over the last decade.

At 43 million, the number of student borrowers jumped 92 percent from 2004 to 2014, while their average balances climbed 74 percent, according to New York Fed researchers. The average balance was some $27,000.

While the 2007-2009 recession depressed other forms of household debt, Americans continued to borrow for education, with student loans now worth almost $1.2 trillion. Since 2010, student loans have been the second largest form of household debt after mortgages.

Student loan balances have grown at an average annualized rate of 13 percent over the last decade as more Americans entered college and graduate programs, and stayed there longer. Also contributing to the rise, loans for parents have become more available while the overall cost of education has risen.

About one-third of the debt is held by borrowers between ages 20 and 29, another one-third was held by those in their thirties, and the rest by those 40 years and older, according to the New York Fed.

Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe