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|When he graduated from the Harvard Business School three years ago this month, the economy was a wreck. Nearly one in four of his classmates didn't have a job at graduation in May 2009. Yet, Joe Mihalic, then 26, was able to land a job with Dell (DELL) in Austin, Texas, at twice as much as the $52,000 a year he made before earning his MBA.
But there was some overhang from his experience in Boston: roughly $101,000 in loans that he had to borrow to get the degree, even after Harvard gave him $54,000 in fellowship support. Mihalic, of course, is hardly alone. The average debt of a Harvard MBA last year was $77,880, up from $73,110 a year earlier. Wharton MBAs, however, racked up average debt loads estimated to be an unprecedented $114,000, and the median financial burden for an MBA from a top-10 business school from the Class of 2011 is about $88,500.