July 6, 2019

Average Student Loan Debt by State

Read more about Student Loans

Connecticut has the largest average student loan debt at $38,150, and Utah has the lowest amount of debt at $18,835. Students in New Hampshire have a 74% likelihood of having student loan debt, while students in Utah had just a 38% likelihood of having student loan debt.

Read below to see how your state stacks up regarding average student loan debt.

Student Loan Debt in the U.S.

What is the average student loan debt in the United States per student?
The average total amount of student debt is $28,650 per student. In more than 18 states, the average student loan debt totals more than $30,000.

Which states have the highest student loan debt?
Connecticut ($38,150), Pennsylvania ($36,854), Rhode Island ($36,250), New Hampshire ($34,515), and Delaware ($34,144) are the top five states with the most student loan debt.

Which states have the lowest amount of student loan debt?
Utah ($18,838), New Mexico ($21,237), Wyoming ($22,524), Nevada ($22,064), and California ($22,785) are the five states with the least amount of student loan debt.

StateAverage Student Debt
District of Columbia$30,775
New Hampshire$34,415
New Jersey$32,247
New Mexico$21,237
New York$30,931
North Carolina$26,526
Rhode Island$36,250
South Carolina$30,891
South Dakota$31,275
West Virginia$27,505

Student Loan Debt—The Basics

What is the total amount of outstanding student loans?
Currently, there is $1.5 trillion outstanding in student loan debt. This is a 36% increase from just five years ago, when student loan debt totaled $1.1 trillion.

How many student loan borrowers are there?
65% of graduating seniors in the Class of 2017 (the latest data available) had student loan debt. That's 2 out of every 3 seniors at both public and private schools.

What is the average student loan debt for graduate students?
The average graduate student borrows $18,210 per year for graduate school versus an average $5,460 per year for undergraduate students.

What is the maximum amount you can get in student loans?
The aggregate loan limit over the life of your undergraduate studies may not exceed $31,000. If you are eligible for subsidized loans, no more than $23,000 can be subsidized.

The maximum amount that first-year undergraduate students (freshmen) can borrow is $5,500. If you receive subsided loans, the maximum amount that may be subsidized is $3,500.

How many students take out non-federal student loans?
In 2017, more than 15% of student loans were non-federal. This means that these students don't have the protection that the federal government offers, such as repayment plans or loan forgiveness plans to help graduates pay their student loan debt.

Average Cost of College

What is the average cost of a 2-year college education?
The average 2-year college has a tuition rate of $3,660.

What is the average cost of a 4-year college education (in state)?
The average 4-year public college tuition has a rate of $10,230.

What is the average cost of a 4-year public college education (out of state)?
The average out-of-state public college tuition cost is $26,290.

What is the average cost of a 4-year private college?
Private colleges don't charge different rates for in-state and out-of-state students, but the tuition tends to be higher. On average, private college students pay $35,830 for college.

The average graduate from a private college has $39,000 in student loan debt.

Paying Off Student Loans

How long does it take to pay off student loans on average?
Today, graduates take an average of 21.1 years to pay off their student loans.

How long do you have to pay off student loans?
The standard student loan repayment plan puts graduates on track to pay their student loans off in 10 years.

Typically, you have up to 25 years if you apply for one of the Department of Education's Repayment Plans. They offer a variety of plans including

  • Income-Based Repayment
  • Graduated Repayment Plans
  • Extended Term Repayment Plans

Are student loans forgiven after 20 years?
Only student loans in one of the repayment plans above may be eligible for loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years.

If you don't enter into a repayment plan, you will likely have to pay the full amount back or run the risk of default.

What are consumers sacrificing in order to pay their student loans?
Student loan debt forces graduates to forgo other things in their life. For example, 50% of graduates shop and travel less and 45% eat out less than they'd prefer.

What Is a Good Interest Rate for Student Loans?
Federal student loans have fixed interest rates set by the government. Today, undergraduate direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans have a fixed 5.05% rate.

Private student loans may have lower rates, but they lack the protection that federal student loans offer. These loans have tougher qualifying guidelines as well.

Other Facts About Tuition and Student Loan Debt

What is the most expensive college in the US?
Harvey Mudd College takes the prize for the most expensive college in the United States. Tuition costs of $56,876 and room/board costs $18,127, for a total college cost of $75,003.

How many student loan borrowers from public schools default on their debt?
Just 4% of public school college graduates default on their student loan debt within 12 years of starting college.

How many student loan borrowers from private schools default on their debt?
Around 30% of private school graduates default on their student loan debt in less than 12 years after they started college.

How many college graduates move back in with their parents?
Just under 30% of college graduates move back in with their parents, an increase from 19% in 2005. The area with the largest amount of college grads living at home is Las Vegas.

Are Student Loans Considered Consumer Debt?
Each state classifies student loans differently. Whether it's consumer debt or non-consumer debt, though, student loans typically don't get discharged in a bankruptcy.

The only way to do so is if you prove that you have a serious hardship paying the debt back. If you have federal loans, though, you may be eligible for one of the several student loan debt repayment plans.

Bottom Line

Student loan debt is a big deal. Understanding how you will pay the debt off and how long it will take can help you choose the right college.

Using the average student loan debt for your state can help you determine where you fall and if you should rethink your choice of a college.

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