If you're wondering how many of the students who graduated from a Colorado college or university last year hold student loans they must pay back, the answer is half. And their average debt is $18,321, according to a new study from the Institute for College Access & Success' Project on Student Debt . That's lower than the rising national average of $23,200 per student, and Colorado's average ranks a comfortable 40th among states with students carrying high debt loads, writes the Denver Business Journal . Graduates of Johnson & Wales University in Denver carry the highest average debt load in the state ($28,354), followed by Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs ($27,048), and Colorado School of Mines in Golden ($22,500). The lowest average debt load is carried by the University of Denver grads, at $11,218. Student loans seem risky for a lot of students these days, particularly given the tough jobs market. More than 20 percent of students who took out government loans to pay for their education at for-profit colleges defaulted within the first three years they were required to make payments. That's about three times the level of four-year public and nonprofit institutions, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis  of government data, which comes as U.S. Department of Education officials propose to restrict aggressive marketing tactics that may bring unqualified students to classes they're unprepared to complete, leaving them in debt. And you've heard of how subprime mortgages burst the housing bubble. Consumer Reports  now warns that subprime student loans can burst a graduate's wallet.