Clearly, not all college degrees are the same.

Many institutions are looking to expand their enrollment in science and technology degrees to meet the demands of the current job market. However, as a report by Ruth Simon and Rob Barry in the Wall Street Journal explains, art students have an entirely different set of challenges.

Most people assume a degree in the arts is no guarantee of riches. Now there is evidence that such graduates also rack up the most student-loan debt.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of new Department of Education data shows that median debt loads at schools specializing in art, music and design average $21,576, which works out to a loan payment of about $248 a month. That is a heavy burden, considering that salaries for graduates of such schools with five or fewer years’ experience cluster around $40,000, according to

The data also show that graduates of research universities tend to carry less debt than those of liberal-arts colleges. Median debt loads average $19,445 for liberal-arts schools, versus $18,100 for research universities.

The figures are based on the amount of federal education loans in 2010-11; they include those taken out by students and their parents, but consist of only students for whom there is borrowing….

The “College Scorecard” released by the government last week offers prospective students a new way to help gauge the financial return on a college education. Families can search by school to see how much money students owe on federal student loans when they leave college, as well as estimated monthly loan payments. About 10 states, including Virginia, Florida and California, already publish salary information by school and program or are expected to do so this year.

The scorecard also includes information on graduation rates, loan defaults and average costs after grants and scholarships, all of which was previously available on a Department of Education website. That earlier site also shows the average amount students at different schools borrow in a year, but it doesn’t spell out how that debt can add up or what it will take to repay it.

Sadly, some students have become very sanguine about their debt load:

Sara Moe, a junior majoring in political science and public policy, figured she would have to take on substantial debt at NYU. “But I was hoping for five digits, not six,” said Ms. Moe, who expects to rack up more than $100,000 in loans by the time she graduates. Said Ms. Moe: “It’s important to know what you are getting yourself into.