Average Student Loan Debt in America 2022

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Last Update: January 18, 2022 College Students Credit Cards Debt Loans Studies
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The latest findings from the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Loan Portfolio show that American student loan debt is $1.5911 trillion as of Q3 2021 — an increase of 1.8% year-over-year (YoY). Similarly, the average American student loan balance is $37,175 — an increase of 3% YoY. For context, the YoY percentage changes compare the figures released in Q3 2021 to the statistics released in Q3 2020.

As an office of the U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid directly manages and oversees the Federal Student Loan Portfolio. With help from Enterprise Data Warehouse, the office provides timely, accurate, and consistent data to improve insight and analytics.

Enterprise Data Warehouse gathers its information from:

  • Postsecondary Education Participant Systems (PEPS).
  • Federal Loan Services.
  • Perkins Loan Schools.
  • National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).
  • Guaranty Agencies.

Why Should You Trust ElitePersonalFinance?

With accuracy and accountability in mind, we pride ourselves on presenting you with the latest information from the most reliable sources. We carefully select data from the largest credit reporting agencies – like FICO, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. In addition, we augment our studies with relevant data from the U.S. government, the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and other reputable research institutions.

Moreover, our editorial team carefully vets all of the findings, and sources are present throughout the study.

Average Student Loan Debt in America 2022: Statistics and Key Findings

Public Student Loan Debt:

American student loan debt is $1.5911 trillion as of Q3 2021 — an increase of 1.8% year-over-year (YoY).

The average American student loan balance is $37,175 — an increase of 3% YoY.

Historical Student Loan Debt:

American student loan debt has increased by more than 208% since the end of 2007. Moreover, the average student loan balance has increased by 104% during that same timeframe.

By Type:

Stafford loans account for nearly 53% of all student loans outstanding in the United States.

Grad PLUS loans have increased in popularity since 2014. For example, the Grad PLUS debt outstanding has risen by 126% since Q3 2014. Second on the list is Parent PLUS loans (up by 66% since Q3 2014), and third is student loans in consolidation (up by 46% since Q3 2014).

By Age:

Americans aged 35 to 49 (39%) and 24 to 34 (31%) have the highest percentage of student loan debt in the United States. Conversely, Americans aged 62+ (6%) and less than 24 (7%) have the lowest percentage of student loan debt in the United States.

Student loan debt outstanding for Americans aged 62+ has increased by 78% since Q3 2017 — the most among all age groups. Similarly, Americans aged 50 to 61 (a 42% increase) and 35 to 49 (a 26% increase) rank second and third, respectively.

While Americans aged 24 to 34 have the second-most student loan debt outstanding as of Q3 2021 ($498.2 billion), their balances have increased by the second-lowest percentage since Q3 2017 (4%).

Americans under 24 years of age are the only cohort to see their student loan debt outstanding contract from Q3 2017 to Q3 2021 (-15%).

By Generation:

Generation X carries the highest average student loan balance ($45,095), while baby boomers rank second ($40,512) and Millennials rank third ($38,877). Conversely, Generation Z has the lowest average student loan debt among all generations ($17,338).

By Gender:

Men have an average student loan balance of $29,270, while women have an average student loan balance of $31,276. However, men’s expected first-year annual salary after graduation is $43,627, while women’s is $35,338.

By Race:

Black Americans ($30,000) have the highest median education installment debt. In contrast, Hispanic Americans ($17,600) have the lowest median education installment debt.

When comparing the most-recent findings to the data present in 2016, we found that Black Americans’ median education installment debt increased by 41%. Conversely, White Americans’ balances increased by 13%, while Hispanics and other races’ balances declined by 8% and 6%, respectively.

By Credit Score:

Americans with FICO Scores from 740-799 have the highest average student loan debt ($41,015), while Americans with FICO Scores from 300-579 have the lowest average student loan debt ($33,639).

By Academic Institution:

Americans owe 44% of their outstanding student loan debt to public institutions. Conversely, Americans owe 34% to private institutions and 18% to proprietary institutions (for-profit colleges and universities).

International students only owe 1.2% of outstanding student loan debt in America. However, foreign student loan debt has increased by 44% since Q3 2017 — the highest among all cohorts. Conversely, growth in public (25%), private (25%), and proprietary (24%) student loan debt has been relatively even since Q3 2017.

By Amount Owed:

Americans who owe between $100,000 and $200,000 account for 20% of total outstanding student loan debt. Moreover, Americans that owe $200,000+ and between $20,000 and $40,000 are tied for second at 17%, respectively.

Americans that owe between $80,000 and $100,000 have the highest average student loan debt relative to their debt brackets.

The highest number of American student loan borrowers have debt balances in the 20K to 40K bracket (9.5 million) and the 10K to 20K bracket (9.4 million). Conversely, the lowest number of American student loan borrowers have debt balances in the 200K+ bracket (0.9 million) and the 80K to 100K bracket (1.4 million).

By State:

California ($142.7 billion), Texas ($117.3 billion), and Florida ($98.9 billion) have the highest student loan debt outstanding. Conversely, Wyoming ($1.6 billion), Alaska ($2.3 billion), and North Dakota ($2.5 billion) have the lowest student loan debt outstanding.

Residents of the District of Columbia ($55,220), Maryland ($43,165), and Georgia ($41,913) have the highest average student loan debt. In contrast, residents of Puerto Rico ($27,914), North Dakota ($29,481), and Wyoming ($30,246) have the lowest average student loan debt.

By State After Graduation:

2020 graduates in New Hampshire ($39,928), Delaware ($39,705), and Pennsylvania ($39,375) have the highest average student loan balances, while graduates in Utah ($18,344), New Mexico ($20,868), and California ($21,125) have the lowest average student loan balances.

73% of 2020 graduates in South Dakota completed university with student loan debt, while 70% in New Hampshire and 66% in North Dakota achieved this same milestone. Conversely, only 39% of 2020 graduates in Utah completed university with student loan debt, while New Mexico and Hawaii tie for the second-lowest percentage at 45%.

By Status:

72% of outstanding student loan debt is in forbearance — an increase of 1,903% from Q3 2013 and 687% from Q4 2019 (pre-COVID).

Student loans in default have risen by 275% since Q3 2013. However, since COVID-19 struck, student loans with “default” status have declined by 5% (versus Q4 2019).

Average Student Loan Debt in America 2022: Charts, Graph, Analysis

Historical Student Loan Debt

As of Q3 2021, American student loan debt has increased by more than 208% since the end of 2007. Moreover, the average student loan balance has increased by 104% during that same timeframe.

Interestingly, the YoY percentage change in American student loan debt has been decelerating since 2010. For example, the outstanding student loan debt increased by 14.1% YoY in 2010. Then, however, the metric declined to a 4.9% YoY rise in 2019 and a 3.7% YoY rise in 2020. And now, to a 1.8% YoY increase in 2021 (when comparing Q3 figures).

Conversely, the average student loan balance has been less predictable. For example, with the number of borrowers remaining reasonably constant since 2017, the average student loan balance increased from a 4.6% YoY rise in 2018 to a 4.9% YoY rise in 2019. However, the metric only increased by 3.7% YoY in 2020, and now, it has increased by 3% YoY in 2021 (when comparing Q3 figures).

Year: Total Outstanding Student Loan Debt (Billions): Number of Borrowers (Millions): Average Student Loan Debt:
2007 $516 28.3 $18,233
2008 $577 29.9 $19,298
2009 $657 32.1 $20,467
2010 $750 34.3 $21,860
2011 $848 36.5 $23,238
2012 $948 38.3 $24,757
2013 $1,040 39.6 $26,268
2014 $1,130 40.7 $27,759
2015 $1,212 41.6 $29,144
2016 $1,292 42.3 $30,548
2017 $1,367 42.6 $32,086
2018 $1,439 42.9 $33,548
2019 $1,510 42.9 $35,205
2020 $1,566 42.9 $36,510
2021:Q3 $1,591 42.8 $37,175

Student Loan Debt by Type

Stafford loans — which are also referred to as Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans — account for nearly 53% of all student loans outstanding in the United States. For context, direct and indirect student loans are virtually interchangeable. However, the former can have better loan terms and assist students in financial need.

In addition, for student loans obtained on or after Jul. 1, 2021, undergraduate Stafford loans have a fixed interest rate of 3.73%. However, graduates who get Direct Unsubsidized Loans on or after Jul. 1, 2021, are charged a fixed interest rate of 5.28%.

What’s more, Grad and Parent PLUS loans — which account for a combined 12% of American student loan debt outstanding — have a fixed interest rate of 6.28%. These loans are issued to parents, graduates, and professional students for context.

Also noteworthy, Grad PLUS loans have increased in popularity since 2014. For example, the Grad PLUS debt outstanding has risen by 126% since Q3 2014. Second on the list is Parent PLUS loans (up by 66% since Q3 2014), and third is student loans in consolidation (up by 46% since Q3 2014).

Period: Stafford (Billions): Grad PLUS (Billions): Parent PLUS (Billions): Perkins (Billions): Consolidation (Billions):
2014:Q2 $606.0 $37.8 $62.2 $8.3 $373.6
2014:Q3 $609.2 $38.6 $61.9 $8.2 $378.8
2014:Q4 $629.7 $41.2 $65.1 $8.2 $385.8
2015:Q1 $630.9 $40.9 $65.1 $8.2 $394.9
2015:Q2 $651.3 $43.4 $68.7 $8.3 $402.8
2015:Q3 $651.6 $44.1 $68.0 $8.2 $410.3
2015:Q4 $669.7 $46.8 $71.1 $8.1 $416.7
2016:Q1 $670.7 $46.6 $71.1 $8.1 $423.6
2016:Q2 $690.8 $49.4 $75.2 $8.2 $431.2
2016:Q3 $690.3 $50.2 $74.5 $8.0 $439.2
2016:Q4 $706.2 $53.0 $77.8 $7.9 $447.3
2017:Q1 $705.3 $52.8 $77.5 $7.9 $456.2
2017:Q2 $722.2 $55.7 $81.5 $7.9 $464.5
2017:Q3 $720.2 $56.6 $80.5 $7.8 $472.3
2017:Q4 $735.5 $59.7 $83.9 $7.6 $480.3
2018:Q1 $735.5 $59.6 $83.7 $7.6 $489.0
2018:Q2 $753.0 $62.8 $87.7 $7.6 $495.9
2018:Q3 $752.1 $63.9 $86.7 $7.4 $501.9
2018:Q4 $767.1 $67.0 $89.9 $7.1 $508.0
2019:Q1 $767.7 $71.3 $89.8 $6.9 $515.6
2019:Q2 $783.5 $70.7 $93.9 $6.6 $521.8
2019:Q3 $781.6 $71.9 $92.9 $6.3 $528.4
2019:Q4 $796.7 $75.2 $96.1 $6.1 $536.1
2020:Q1 $795.8 $75.3 $95.6 $5.9 $542.4
2020:Q2 $811.4 $78.8 $99.4 $5.6 $547.7
2020:Q3 $811.4 $79.5 $98.3 $5.4 $550.2
2020:Q4 $825.5 $82.8 $100.8 $5.2 $552.1
2021:Q1 $824.6 $82.7 $100.3 $4.9 $552.6
2021:Q2 $842.5 $86.3 $103.6 $4.7 $554.7
2021:Q3 $842.2 $87.3 $102.8 $4.3 $554.5

On the flip side, Perkins Loans outstanding have decreased by 48% since Q3 2014. For context, Perkins Loans are low-interest alternatives for students with exceptional financial needs. The interest rate is fixed at 5%, and the goal of the offering is to help students in unique financial circumstances obtain funds for their education. However, it’s worth noting that the U.S. federal government phased out Perkins Loans in September 2017, and schools no longer have the ability to issue new loans.

Student Loan Debt by Age

When breaking down the data by age, Americans aged 35 to 49 (39%) and 24 to 34 (31%) have the highest percentage of student loan debt in the United States. Conversely, Americans aged 62+ (6%) and less than 24 (7%) have the lowest percentage of student loan debt in the United States.

Interestingly, student loan debt outstanding for Americans aged 62+ has increased by 78% since Q3 2017 — the most among all age groups. Similarly, Americans aged 50 to 61 (a 42% increase) and 35 to 49 (a 26% increase) rank second and third, respectively.

Conversely, while Americans aged 24 to 34 have the second-most student loan debt outstanding as of Q3 2021 ($498.2 billion), their balances have increased by the second-lowest percentage since Q3 2017 (4%).

Also noteworthy, Americans under 24 years of age are the only cohort to see their student loan debt outstanding contract from Q3 2017 to Q3 2021 (-15%).

Period: < 24 (Billions): 25 to 34 (Billions): 35 to 49 (Billions): 50 to 61 (Billions): 62+ (Billions): Not Reported (Billions):
2017:Q2 $134.3 $477.4 $484.7 $191.9 $51.9 $0.3
2017:Q3 $126.5 $477.8 $490.2 $194.1 $53.2 $0.2
2017:Q4 $130.3 $484.0 $502.2 $199.8 $55.4 $0.3
2018:Q1 $124.4 $483.8 $511.3 $204.0 $57.9 $0.2
2018:Q2 $129.1 $488.6 $522.4 $210.3 $60.5 $0.2
2018:Q3 $121.6 $489.0 $529.6 $213.6 $62.5 $0.2
2018:Q4 $125.4 $494.8 $540.3 $219.4 $65.2 $0.2
2019:Q1 $120.1 $494.2 $548.4 $224.1 $67.8 $0.2
2019:Q2 $124.6 $497.6 $557.6 $230.4 $70.4 $0.2
2019:Q3 $117.3 $497.0 $564.0 $234.1 $72.9 $0.2
2019:Q4 $121.2 $501.5 $575.5 $241.2 $75.9 $0.2
2020:Q1 $116.1 $498.1 $581.2 $245.5 $78.5 $0.3
2020:Q2 $120.2 $500.1 $589.8 $252.6 $81.4 $0.3
2020:Q3 $112.8 $498.0 $594.5 $256.1 $83.8 $0.3
2020:Q4 $115.5 $500.5 $601.7 $262.2 $86.8 $0.3
2021:Q1 $109.0 $496.3 $604.9 $266.5 $89.5 $0.3
2021:Q2 $113.7 $500.6 $613.0 $273.7 $92.7 $0.3
2021:Q3 $107.0 $498.2 $615.8 $276.0 $94.5 $0.3

Due to rounding, totals may differ slightly from average statistics.

Student Loan Debt by Generation

While Generation Z won the gold medal for the highest YoY percentage change in average student loan debt (39%), Experian found that the cohort still has the lowest average student loan debt among all generations ($17,338).

Conversely, Generation X carries the highest average student loan balance ($45,095), while baby boomers rank second ($40,512) and Millennials rank third ($38,877).

Generation: Average Student Loan Debt 2019: Average Student Loan Debt 2020: Change:
Generation Z (18-23) $12,495 $17,338 39%
Millennials (24-39) $34,795 $38,877 12%
Generation X (40-55) $39,981 $45,095 13%
Baby boomers (56-74) $34,957 $40,512 16%
Silent generation (75+) $25,614 $28,052 10%

Student Loan Debt by Gender

The American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) latest research shows that men have an average student loan balance of $29,270, while women have an average student loan balance of $31,276. However, men’s expected first-year annual salary after graduation is $43,627, while women’s is $35,338.

As a result, American men’s average student loan debt accounts for 67% of their first-year expected annual salary, while American women’s accounts for 89%.

Gender: Average Student Loan Debt: Expected Annual Salary Year 1 After Graduation:
Men $29,270 $43,627
Women $31,276 $35,338

Student Loan Debt by Race

The latest findings from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances show that Black Americans ($30,000) have the highest median education installment debt. In contrast, Hispanic Americans ($17,600) have the lowest median education installment debt.

Moreover, Black Americans’ median balance has increased by 479% since 1992, while Hispanics’ median balance has increased by 181%. In addition, when comparing the most-recent findings to the data present in 2016, we found that Black Americans’ median education installment debt increased by 41%. Conversely, White Americans’ balances increased by 13%, while Hispanics and other races’ balances declined by 8% and 6%, respectively.

Date: White, non-Hispanic: Black, non-Hispanic: Hispanic: Other:
1992 $6,260 $5,180 $6,260 $3,040
1995 $6,510 $5,840 $6,680 $8,350
1998 $11,480 $8,020 $7,860 $8,180
2001 $11,840 $7,220 $7,220 $13,000
2004 $13,560 $11,520 $6,780 $6,780
2007 $16,050 $11,360 $12,340 $12,340
2010 $15,550 $15,320 $12,960 $12,960
2013 $19,770 $16,470 $14,280 $17,570
2016 $20,310 $21,270 $19,140 $20,210
2019 $23,000 $30,000 $17,600 $19,000

Student Loan Debt by Credit Score

Across credit score ranges, Experian found that Americans with the lowest FICO Scores (300-579) recorded the smallest YoY percentage increase in their average student loan debt (3%). Conversely, student loan borrowers in the other FICO Score ranges saw their balances increase between 8% and 10% YoY.

However, Americans with FICO Scores from 740-799 have the highest average student loan debt ($41,015), while Americans with FICO Scores from 300-579 have the lowest average student loan debt ($33,639).

FICO Score Range: Average Student Loan Debt 2019: Average Student Loan Debt 2020: Change:
300-579 $32,690 $33,639 3%
580-669 $36,264 $39,892 10%
670-739 $36,948 $40,446 9%
740-799 $37,851 $41,015 8%
800-850 $32,308 $35,078 9%

Student Loan Debt by Academic Institution

While public colleges and universities often fund their operations through state governments, private institutions typically rely on tuition and donations from wealthy alumni. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that tuition, fees, and lodging costs were 1.47x at for-profit private institutions and 2.58x at not-for-profit private institutions in the 2018-2019 academic year. Thus, it’s understandable that Americans’ student loan debt is more concentrated in public institutions.

For example, Americans owe 44% of their outstanding student loan debt to public institutions. Conversely, Americans owe 34% to private institutions and 18% to proprietary institutions (for-profit colleges and universities).

Interestingly, international students only owe 1.2% of outstanding student loan debt in America. However, foreign student loan debt has increased by 44% since Q3 2017 — the highest among all cohorts. Conversely, growth in public (25%), private (25%), and proprietary (24%) student loan debt has been relatively even since Q3 2017.

Period: Public (Billions): Private (Billions): Proprietary (Billions): Foreign (Billions): Other (Billions):
2017:Q2 $563.8 $434.7 $221.6 $13.5 $106.9
2017:Q3 $561.7 $435.0 $224.2 $13.7 $107.5
2017:Q4 $581.1 $451.7 $242.9 $14.2 $82.1
2018:Q1 $582.7 $454.7 $244.9 $14.3 $85.1
2018:Q2 $597.5 $466.2 $248.4 $14.8 $84.2
2018:Q3 $596.5 $467.6 $251.1 $15.1 $86.3
2018:Q4 $617.6 $478.5 $245.6 $15.5 $88.2
2019:Q1 $619.6 $480.4 $248.6 $15.7 $90.4
2019:Q2 $630.2 $489.5 $249.3 $16.2 $95.6
2019:Q3 $628.8 $490.9 $251.4 $16.5 $97.9
2019:Q4 $641.9 $501.8 $254.6 $16.9 $100.2
2020:Q1 $641.8 $502.3 $256.6 $17.1 $101.8
2020:Q2 $652.9 $512.7 $257.5 $17.5 $103.6
2020:Q3 $650.8 $512.8 $259.6 $17.7 $104.5
2020:Q4 $662.2 $520.2 $261.3 $18.1 $105.1
2021:Q1 $660.1 $519.6 $262.7 $18.2 $105.7
2021:Q2 $696.6 $551.5 $276.9 $19.5 $49.4
2021:Q3 $699.7 $545.3 $277.9 $19.7 $49.0

Student Loan Debt by Amount Owed

When analyzing the figures by the amount of student loan debt owed, we found that Americans who owe between $100,000 and $200,000 account for 20% of total outstanding student loan debt. Moreover, Americans that owe $200,000+ and between $20,000 and $40,000 are tied for second at 17%, respectively.

However, it’s interesting that Americans that owe between $80,000 and $100,000 have the highest average student loan debt relative to their debt brackets. For example, borrowers in the 80K to 100K bracket have $89,357 in average student loan debt. And this figure is only 11% below the upper brand (100K) of their debt bracket. Similarly, Americans’ average student loan balance in the 60K to 80K bracket is $69,004. And this figure is only 14% below the upper brand (80K) of their debt bracket.

On the flip side, Americans’ average student loan balance in the less than 5K bracket is $2,668 (47% below the ~5K upper band). Similarly, Americans’ average student loan balance in the 5K to 10K and 10K to 20K brackets are $7,233 and $14,499, respectively (28% below their 10K and 20K upper bands).

Also noteworthy, the highest number of American student loan borrowers have debt balances in the 20K to 40K bracket (9.5 million) and the 10K to 20K bracket (9.4 million). Conversely, the lowest number of American student loan borrowers have debt balances in the 200K+ bracket (0.9 million) and the 80K to 100K bracket (1.4 million).

Amount Owed: Total Outstanding Student Loan Debt (Billions): Number of Borrowers (Millions): Average Student Loan Debt:
Less than 5K $19.0 7.1 $2,668
5K to 10K $54.1 7.5 $7,233
10K to 20K $135.7 9.4 $14,499
20K to 40K $272.6 9.5 $28,573
40K to 60K $208.3 4.2 $49,120
60K to 80K $179.4 2.6 $69,004
80K to 100K $125.1 1.4 $89,357
100K to 200K $324.8 2.3 $138,803
200K+ $272.5 0.9 $292,989

Student Loan Debt by State

At the state level, California ($142.7 billion), Texas ($117.3 billion), and Florida ($98.9 billion) have the highest student loan debt outstanding. Conversely, Wyoming ($1.6 billion), Alaska ($2.3 billion), and North Dakota ($2.5 billion) have the lowest student loan debt outstanding.

However, residents of the District of Columbia ($55,220), Maryland ($43,165), and Georgia ($41,913) have the highest average student loan debt. In contrast, residents of Puerto Rico ($27,914), North Dakota ($29,481), and Wyoming ($30,246) have the lowest average student loan debt.

And when breaking down the numbers by population, the results make logical sense. For example, the latest U.S. Census shows that California, Texas, and Florida are the three most populated states in the U.S. Conversely, Wyoming, Vermont, and Alaska are the three least populated states in the U.S.

As a result, it’s no surprise that the former states have the highest outstanding student loan debt, while the latter states have (or are near) the lowest outstanding student loan debt.

State: Total Outstanding Student Loan Debt (Billions): Number of Borrowers (Millions): Average Student Loan Debt:
Alabama $23.1 0.62 $37,354
Alaska $2.3 0.07 $34,535
Arizona $30.9 0.87 $35,583
Arkansas $12.8 0.38 $33,534
California $142.7 3.85 $37,042
Colorado $28.2 0.76 $37,135
Connecticut $17.1 0.48 $35,455
Delaware $4.7 0.12 $38,088
District of Columbia $6.4 0.12 $55,220
Florida $98.9 2.56 $38,600
Georgia $67.4 1.61 $41,913
Hawaii $4.4 0.12 $36,820
Idaho $7.1 0.21 $33,116
Illinois $61.0 1.60 $38,168
Indiana $29.6 0.89 $33,162
Iowa $13.1 0.43 $30,751
Kansas $12.4 0.38 $32,961
Kentucky $19.5 0.59 $33,068
Louisiana $22.1 0.64 $34,705
Maine $6.1 0.18 $33,388
Maryland $35.4 0.82 $43,165
Massachusetts $30.3 0.88 $34,573
Michigan $50.6 1.39 $36,345
Minnesota $26.3 0.77 $33,975
Mississippi $16.0 0.43 $37,123
Missouri $29.2 0.82 $35,645
Montana $4.2 0.12 $33,953
Nebraska $7.8 0.24 $32,245
Nevada $11.6 0.34 $33,988
New Hampshire $6.4 0.19 $34,427
New Jersey $41.7 1.17 $35,794
New Mexico $7.7 0.23 $34,222
New York $91.6 2.40 $38,102
North Carolina $48.2 1.27 $38,001
North Dakota $2.5 0.08 $29,481
Ohio $61.8 1.77 $35,010
Oklahoma $15.2 0.48 $31,793
Oregon $20.0 0.54 $37,327
Pennsylvania $63.8 1.78 $35,855
Puerto Rico $9.1 0.33 $27,914
Rhode Island $4.5 0.14 $32,212
South Carolina $27.6 0.71 $38,737
South Dakota $3.6 0.11 $31,943
Tennessee $30.9 0.84 $36,616
Texas $117.3 3.54 $33,177
Utah $9.9 0.30 $32,760
Vermont $2.8 0.08 $37,185
Virginia $41.9 1.06 $39,551
Washington $27.7 0.78 $35,728
West Virginia $7.2 0.22 $32,301
Wisconsin $23.0 0.71 $32,249
Wyoming $1.6 0.05 $30,246
Other $4.3 0.09 $46,537
Not Reported $100.4 3.96 $25,334

Student Loan Debt by State After Graduation

A comprehensive study by the Institute for College Access & Success found that 2020 graduates have more than $30,000 in average student loan debt in 19 states and more than $35,000 in six states.

Graduates in New Hampshire ($39,928), Delaware ($39,705), and Pennsylvania ($39,375) have the highest average student loan balances, while graduates in Utah ($18,344), New Mexico ($20,868), and California ($21,125) have the lowest average student loan balances.

However, 73% of 2020 graduates in South Dakota completed university with student loan debt, while 70% in New Hampshire and 66% in North Dakota achieved this same milestone. Conversely, only 39% of 2020 graduates in Utah completed university with student loan debt, while New Mexico and Hawaii tie for the second-lowest percentage at 45%.

State: Average Student Loan Debt: 2020 Grads: % of 2020 Grads with Student Loan Debt: Tuition and Fees (In-State): Fall Undergrad Enrollment:
Alabama $30,996 51% $28,992 206,117
Alaska $26,356 47% $25,012 38,148
Arizona $24,298 47% $30,423 394,862
Arkansas $27,319 54% $25,908 106,308
California $21,125 46% $37,955 1,459,699
Colorado $26,424 49% $32,380 336,659
Connecticut $35,853 57% $50,613 134,469
Delaware $39,705 60% $30,056 59,525
D.C. $32,966 46% $65,087 61,213
Florida $24,454 47% $31,186 1,168,179
Georgia $27,759 56% $29,569 408,607
Hawaii $24,926 45% $30,928 37,599
Idaho $24,983 58% $19,801 131,149
Illinois $28,552 57% $43,781 361,962
Indiana $28,521 57% $32,199 330,363
Iowa $29,560 60% $34,253 118,007
Kansas $26,002 60% $28,411 120,036
Kentucky $28,356 61% $30,278 155,595
Louisiana $26,284 53% $31,396 159,385
Maine $32,764 63% $39,783 56,368
Maryland $30,461 55% $37,406 215,708
Massachusetts $33,457 56% $55,036 317,076
Michigan $29,863 58% $30,582 365,847
Minnesota $32,012 64% $37,075 221,991
Mississippi $29,714 58% $26,031 87,236
Missouri $28,713 56% $32,757 250,259
Montana $27,114 55% $24,286 41,936
Nebraska $26,781 60% $30,571 80,232
Nevada $21,357 46% $25,033 134,795
New Hampshire $39,928 70% $47,195 159,226
New Jersey $35,117 63% $41,166 239,021
New Mexico $20,868 45% $22,604 51,573
New York $30,951 54% $48,000 845,354
North Carolina $29,681 55% $31,887 300,092
North Dakota $31,939 66% $22,501 45,761
Ohio $30,605 59% $35,394 458,263
Oklahoma $27,876 50% $27,707 132,819
Oregon $26,504 53% $37,144 128,629
Pennsylvania $39,375 64% $45,924 485,024
Rhode Island $36,791 64% $52,184 62,302
South Carolina $32,635 60% $32,273 142,783
South Dakota $32,029 73% $25,899 51,571
Tennessee $26,852 53% $34,361 205,172
Texas $26,273 52% $30,193 884,191
Utah $18,344 39% $20,915 354,120
Vermont $34,866 57% $46,379 36,848
Virginia $29,616 55% $34,470 340,488
Washington $23,993 47% $32,172 399,446
West Virginia $29,208 66% $25,468 143,925
Wisconsin $30,270 63% $29,110 238,021
Wyoming $23,510 48% $20,258 11,076

Student Loan Debt by Status

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing U.S. citizens to hunker down in 2020 and 2021, the Biden Administration extended student loan forbearance until May 1, 2022. As a result, 72% of outstanding student loan repayments are on hold — an increase of 1,903% from Q3 2013 and 687% from Q4 2019 (pre-COVID).

Also interesting, student loans in default have risen by 275% since Q3 2013. However, since COVID-19 struck, student loans with “default” status have declined by 5% (versus Q4 2019). And unsurprisingly, with American student loan borrowers taking advantage of forbearance programs, the other categories have all declined since the onset of the pandemic.

For example:

  • Student loan debt held by Americans still in school has declined by 22% since Q4 2019.
  • Student loan debt with “grace” status has decreased by 23% since Q4 2019.
  • Student loans currently in repayment have declined by 98% since Q4 2019.
  • Student loan debt deemed deferred has fallen by 15% since Q4 2019.
Period: In-School (Billions): Grace (Billions): Repay (Billions): Deferred (Billions): Forbearance (Billions): Default (Billions): Other (Billions):
2013:Q3 $133.8 $40.4 $237.4 $75.6 $48.3 $30.5 $3.2
2013:Q4 $152.9 $47.6 $236.4 $81.8 $53.7 $33.8 $2.9
2014:Q1 $146.8 $27.0 $272.5 $77.1 $63.6 $35.2 $4.3
2014:Q2 $160.0 $28.9 $276.1 $91.0 $72.1 $36.6 $4.4
2014:Q3 $136.1 $42.8 $300.2 $89.3 $74.9 $37.4 $4.9
2014:Q4 $154.0 $49.8 $301.8 $95.1 $80.7 $40.1 $5.0
2015:Q1 $145.3 $28.7 $350.0 $86.5 $86.7 $42.5 $4.7
2015:Q2 $156.4 $28.6 $368.2 $98.1 $86.0 $44.7 $5.1
2015:Q3 $132.9 $42.2 $394.1 $93.3 $87.4 $47.9 $5.2
2015:Q4 $150.1 $48.5 $397.1 $99.2 $89.5 $50.8 $5.4
2016:Q1 $140.4 $27.6 $440.1 $88.3 $96.9 $55.5 $6.0
2016:Q2 $153.6 $26.9 $440.9 $105.4 $104.2 $59.5 $6.2
2016:Q3 $126.4 $42.6 $468.1 $101.7 $102.8 $63.2 $6.8
2016:Q4 $142.5 $50.1 $478.6 $107.3 $96.2 $67.5 $6.9
2017:Q1 $136.3 $27.0 $522.6 $96.8 $102.0 $71.8 $7.0
2017:Q2 $146.3 $26.2 $535.6 $112.9 $100.1 $74.9 $7.2
2017:Q3 $120.4 $41.7 $553.7 $108.6 $105.9 $78.9 $7.8
2017:Q4 $138.9 $48.4 $547.5 $114.4 $112.5 $83.9 $7.9
2018:Q1 $133.5 $25.9 $600.0 $103.0 $108.3 $88.4 $7.7
2018:Q2 $142.1 $25.1 $604.0 $121.0 $111.0 $92.9 $8.0
2018:Q3 $118.0 $39.4 $630.2 $117.2 $105.8 $97.0 $8.4
2018:Q4 $137.7 $43.9 $623.7 $124.3 $111.1 $101.4 $8.2
2019:Q1 $130.1 $24.7 $665.2 $110.4 $118.7 $105.8 $8.4
2019:Q2 $138.0 $24.0 $672.5 $128.0 $118.7 $108.7 $8.5
2019:Q3 $114.0 $37.7 $687.7 $123.1 $122.1 $115.1 $9.0
2019:Q4 $131.5 $45.2 $685.5 $128.4 $122.9 $119.8 $9.2
2020:Q1 $125.8 $24.3 $728.4 $115.0 $124.1 $125.0 $9.4
2020:Q2 $134.4 $23.0 $693.0 $133.7 $162.6 $128.3 $9.6
2020:Q3 $109.3 $36.8 $11.3 $111.0 $887.8 $125.8 $8.6
2020:Q4 $124.8 $43.7 $14.7 $114.4 $887.4 $122.2 $8.0
2021:Q1 $118.0 $23.6 $15.8 $105.2 $929.4 $118.5 $7.6
2021:Q2 $125.8 $22.3 $17.1 $120.0 $938.3 $116.6 $8.1
2021:Q3 $103.1 $34.7 $16.7 $108.8 $967.3 $114.3 $7.9

Tips on How to Get Out of Debt

While debt management may seem daunting, small steps can lead to significant results.

Track all of your expenses:

The most efficient way to decrease your debt is to become aware of what you spend. For example, you should create a monthly budget that tallies your revenue and expenses. That way, you understand how much money is coming in each month (your paycheck, retirement income, etc.) and how much money is going out each month (rent, mortgage, utilities, food, etc.). By doing this, you can eliminate unnecessary expenditures and re-allocate those funds to pay down your debt.

Consider debt consolidation:

With interest rates near their historic lows, loan providers are always searching for ways to increase their return on capital. As a result, if you have credit card debt that incurs 20% annual interest or more, consolidating that debt can save you a bundle over the long term. To that point, with corporate high yield interest rates only slightly below 4.50%, debt consolidators may consider you an attractive candidate for refinancing.

Seek professional help:

If planning the journey on your own seems intimidating, consider reaching out to a professional. With debt management coaches able to tailor the right plan for you and negotiate preferable terms with your creditors, their support can help ease the burden.

At ElitePersonalFinance, we aim to increase readers’ financial literacy. As a result, don’t hesitate to contact us if you need some guidance.

How We Conducted The Study

ElitePersonalFinance always has up-to-date studies.

Our goal is to consolidate the information and present the findings in a way that’s easy to understand by parsing through the latest data from reliable sources. If you enjoyed the study, please provide your feedback. Moreover, if there is anything that we missed or anything that you believe needs updating, please let us know, and we will respond promptly.

Conclusion

With COVID-19 offering Americans reprieve from their student loan payments, the Biden Administration’s forbearance initiative aided borrowers in their time of need. However, with the payment pause set to expire on May 1, 2022, business as usual should resume in late spring. As a result, Americans will have to shore up their budgets, and consumers will have less disposable income to help spur economic growth.

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