Members of the college Class of 2011 are leaving campus with an average of $39,900 in debt each.

Fidelity Investments, Boston, has based that statistic on results from a recent survey of 549 U.S. college graduates. The sample included 250 members of the Class of 2011 and 299 participants from the classes of 2009 and 2010.

About 78% of the recent graduates have some debt. The sum owed by the students with debt includes an average of $16,800 in government student loans, $14,200 in private loans, $3,600 in credit card debt, and $5,300 in other types of debt, such as family loans.

Fidelity conducted the survey to attract attention to its Section 529 college savings program.

Members of the Class of 2011 who had not saved before going to college came out with an average of $56,000 in debt, Fidelity says.

About 40% of the graduates who had saved for college reported working with a financial advisor to help prepare for the cost. Those graduates carried 20% less debt than the average survey participant.

- Allison Bell

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