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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – Government records show West Virginia has the highest default rate on college student loans in the nation.

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According to the U.S. Department of Education, the default rate in West Virginia in 2016 was 18.3 percent, up from 16.2 percent in 2015. The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports it’s the largest percentage increase of any state.

Nationally, the default rate was 11.5 percent.

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The Education Department says nearly 9,600 people who started repaying their federal student debt in West Virginia in fiscal year 2014 defaulted on their loans by the fall of 2016.

Higher Education Policy Commission senior director of financial aid Brian Weingart says most of the defaulted loans came from the private, for-profit American Public University System based in Charles Town. The school had about 5,500 students who defaulted on their loans.

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