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Debt-ridden and unemployed: We are the class of 2012

Azar Masoumi is ready to don her cap and gown, Ryerson University sociology diploma in hand. Also in hand will be her $28,000 student debt, only slightly above Canada’s average.

The 26-year-old Iran native speaks two languages fluently – English and Farsi – and has considerable work experience. In fact, she’s been juggling multiple jobs for years – from Loblaws cashier to research assistant – to pay her way through four years of university.

Ms Masoumi, like almost half of her graduating peers, has decided her best option is to return to school. She’ll pursue a master’s degree, cramming a two-year program into one year to minimize further debt.

“I’m really scared. I think [my debt is]going to impact me a lot,” Ms. Masoumi said. “That’s partly why I’m trying to avoid [more]student debt, because it’s going to be too difficult for me to pay back if I want to have a family, and if I don’t know where I’m going to be working.”

  • -Owes: $27,889
  • -Estimated monthly payment: $314
  • -Approximate interest payable: $8,663.13*
  • -Total amount payable: $37,319.08*

      *estimates based on current interest rates, according to Canada Student Loans Program calculator

      Scroll through the interactive below to see what it's like to graduate in the class of 2012 with high debt, stiff competition and stagnant income.

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