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From living in the dorms to meeting new people, many students eagerly await their chance to begin the college experience. And no matter your major, almost all college students have one thing in common — they know college can be expensive. So expensive, in fact, that over 43 million students are facing outstanding student loan debt.

Over the past 30 years, the average cost of college tuition has nearly tripled, causing many students to graduate with not only the freshman 15, but also student loan debt. So, just how bad is the student debt crisis? Take a look at these student loan debt statistics and see for yourself.

Average Student Loan Debt Statistics

When deciding whether or not to attend college, one of the main questions students may ask themselves is, “Can I afford college?” For some, this may be an easy question to answer. But millions of others rely on scholarships, grants, and, of course, student loans.

Here are some student loan facts and statistics to help you understand how student loan debt impacts those seeking higher education:

The average student loan debt per borrower is roughly $35,000. (Mint, 2022)

The median total student loan debt per borrower is around $17,000. (Mint, 2022)

Just under 35% of those in some type of debt have student loan debt. (Mint, 2022)

In 2022, the student debt total in the U.S. reached over $1.7 trillion. (Federal Reserve)

6% of student loan borrowers owe over $100,000 in student loan debt.  (Brookings)

3 in 10 adults have taken on debt to help pay for college. (Federal Reserve)

Student loan debt is the second largest type of consumer debt, second to mortgage debt. (Experian)

In the U.S., the outstanding value of student loan debt is greater than that of auto loan debt. (Federal Reserve)

Student loan debt has increased by nearly 76% in the past decade. (Federal Reserve)

Federal Student Loan Debt Statistics

A graphic compares different student loan debt statistics for both federal and private loans.

To help pay for college, many students will borrow federal student loans. Over the past decade, federal student loan debt has increased nearly 70%.

Total Federal Student Loan Debt (2012-2022)

Here is a decade’s overview of the total federal student loan debt, according to Federal Student Aid:

Year
Total Outstanding Debt
Total Borrowers

2022
$1,606.4 billion
43.4 million

2021
$1,565.2 billion
42.9 million

2020
$1,515.0 billion
42.8 million

2019
$1,447.1 billion
43.0 million

2018
$1,375.5 billion
42.8 million

2017
$1,299.7 billion
42.4 million

2016
$1,220.3 billion
41.8 million

2015
$1,140.1 billion
41.1 million

2014
$1,051.8 billion
40.0 million

2013
$961.9 billion
38.7 million

2012
$948.2 billion
38.3 million

And when it comes to federal student loans, there are many different loan types you can choose from. The most popular options are the Stafford Subsidized and Stafford Unsubsidized loans, which together make up over half of all federal student loans combined.

Federal Student Loan Portfolio (2022)

Here is a breakdown of the federal student loan portfolio according to Federal Student Aid:

Loan Type
Total Outstanding Debt
Total Number of Borrowers

Stafford Subsidized
$290.9 billion
30.1 million

Stafford Unsubsidized
$562.5 billion
30.1 million

Grad PLUS
$90.6 billion
1.6 million

Parent PLUS
$104.8 billion
3.7 million

Perkins
$4.2 billion
1.5 million

Consolidation
$553.3 billion
11.2 million

To understand just how popular federal student loans are, check out the following statistics on student loan debt:

In 2020-21, students received nearly $84 billion in federal loans. (College Board)

Over 43 million Americans owe money for federal student loans. (Federal Student Aid)

In the past 30 years, student aid received through federal loans has increased by over 300%. (College Board)

Private Student Loan Debt Statistics

As an alternative, many borrowers instead choose to take out private loans, borrowing from banks, credit unions, and other private student loan lenders. To better understand private student loans and who uses them, read these helpful statistics:

7.61% of outstanding student loans in the U.S. are private loans. (MeasureOne)

In 2020-21, private student loans from credit unions, private lenders, and banks reached nearly $12 billion. (College Board)

The total outstanding private student loan debt is estimated at $131.1 billion. (MeasureOne)

89% of private student loans are used for undergraduate degrees. (MeasureOne)

Student Loan Forgiveness Statistics

A graphic calls out specific student loan debt statistics relating to student loan forgiveness.

Despite differing opinions on student loan forgiveness, some individuals have been able to get some if not all of their student loans forgiven thanks to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The PSLF program offers debt forgiveness to those who agree to work full time for a qualifying employer and meet the PSLF requirements.

However, due to their complex eligibility requirements, very few people are eligible for debt forgiveness. To learn more about the state of student loan forgiveness, scroll through these statistics:

41% of U.S. adults believe that at least some student debt should be forgiven. (YouGov)

12,523 borrowers have successfully had their federal loan debt forgiven through the PSLF program as of May 2022. (Federal Student Aid)

As of May 2022, the PSLF program has forgiven over $1.2 billion in student debt. (Federal Student Aid)

The average amount of student loan debt forgiven through the PSLF program is over $97,000. (Federal Student Aid)

Only 2% of PSLF program applications qualify for student loan forgiveness. (Federal Student Aid)

Student Loan Repayment Statistics

With a monumental amount of outstanding federal student loan debt, you may wonder what exactly is going on with these loans. While everyone’s financial situation may be different, here are the common loan statuses of federal student loans according to Federal Student Aid:

Status
Definition

In-School
The borrower is attending school and has not begun to pay off their current student loan debt.

Grace Period
Once the borrower is no longer enrolled in school at least half time, they are not required to make payments for six months.

Repayment
The borrower is actively repaying their student loans.

Deferment
The borrower’s student loans have been deferred due to military service, returning to school, or economic hardship.

Forbearance
The borrower is currently experiencing student loan forbearance, also known as a temporary suspension or decreased rate of their loan payments.

Cumulative in Default
The borrower has been late on their loan payments for over 360 days.

Other
The borrower’s loan is in non-default bankruptcy or disability status.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many loans are currently in forbearance due to halted or cut payments.

Federal Student Loan Repayment Statistics (Direct Loan Program)

Here is the total outstanding debt and the total number of borrowers as of 2022 for each loan status according to Federal Student Aid:

Loan Status
Total Outstanding Debt
Total Number of Borrowers

In-School
$110.7 billion
6.1 million

Grace Period
$23.6 billion
1.2 million

Repayment
$16.0 billion
0.5 million

Deferment
$100.5 billion
2.9 million

Forbearance
$1.0 trillion
24.8 million

Cumulative in Default
$110.5 billion
5.0 million

Other
$7.7 billion
0.2 million

Regardless of current loan status, many borrowers deal with repaying their student loans well after they leave college. To understand how student loan repayment affects borrowers, read through these stats:

16% of Americans think they will never be able to pay off their student loans. (YouGov)  

54% of those with student debt owe less than $20,000. (College Board)

60% of college graduates with debt age 35 and under expect to pay off their student loans into their 40s. (Citizens Financial Group)

On average, it takes borrowers 21 years to pay off their student loans. (One Wisconsin Institute)

College graduates under the age of 35 spend nearly one-fifth of their current salaries on student loan payments. (Citizens Financial Group)

Student Debt Statistics by Demographics

A graphic highlights different student loan debt statistics specific to race, gender, degree, and school type.

Like many other things, student loan debt does not affect everybody equally. To better understand how different groups are affected by student debt, read through these statistics sorted by different demographics:

Student Loan Debt Statistics by Race

57% of Black female college grads experience financial difficulties while repaying their student loans. (American Association of University Women)

Over two times as many Black students borrow federal student loans than Asian students. (National Center for Education Statistics)

On average, Black college students graduate with $7,400 more in student debt than their white peers. (Brookings) 

Nearly 20% more Black students take out federal student loans than white students. (National Center for Education Statistics)

Over 80% of Black bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with an average of $34,000 in student loan debt in 2016. (The Institute for College Access & Success)

Over 25% more Hispanic and Latino students use federal student loans than Asian students. (National Center for Education Statistics)

In 2016, 66% of Hispanic and Latino bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with student loan debt. (The Institute for College Access & Success)

Of Black graduates with bachelor’s degrees in 2016, only 14% did not take out student loans. (Postsecondary National Policy Institute)

Less than half of Asian bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with student loan debt in 2016. (The Institute for College Access & Success)

As of 2019, the average white male borrower has paid off 44% of his student loan balance 12 years after starting college, whereas the average Black female borrower saw her student loan balance increase by 13% in the same time period. (Demos)

Over 60% of white bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with student loan debt in 2016. (The Institute for College Access & Success)

Student Loan Debt Statistics by Age

Below you will find a breakdown of the total amount of outstanding debt and the total number of borrowers by age group according to Federal Student Aid:

Age Group
Total Outstanding Debt
Total Number of Borrowers

24 and younger
$103.4 billion
7.4 million

25 to 34
$493.6 billion
14.9 million

35 to 49
$622.9 billion
14.4 million

50 to 61
$284.2 billion
6.4 million

62 and older
$100.3 billion
2.5 million

Age not reported
$0.3 billion
0.1 million

Over $100 billion of the outstanding student loan debt is held by borrowers over age 62. (Federal Student Aid)

Nearly half a trillion dollars of the federal student loan debt is held by borrowers between the ages of 25 and 34. (Federal Student Aid)

More than one-third of adults under 30 have student loan debt. (Pew Research Center)

Nearly 85% of federal student loan borrowers are under 50. (Federal Student Aid)

Borrowers under the age of 24 owe over $100 billion in federal student loan debt. (Federal Student Aid)

Student Loan Debt Statistics by Degree Type

Undergraduate loans make up nearly 90% of the outstanding balance of private student loans. (MeasureOne)

Roughly 25% of student loan borrowers went to graduate school. (Brookings)

The average undergraduate student has $28,400 in student loan debt. (College Board)

23% of bachelor’s degree recipients graduate with less than $20,000 in student loan debt. (Brookings)

On average, student loans make up 30% of the funds an undergraduate student uses to pay for college. (College Board)

30% of bachelor’s degree holders graduate with no debt. (Brookings)

In 2020-21, federal student loans made up 65% of the total funding for graduate students. (College Board)

48% of the total outstanding student loan debt can be attributed to loans associated with graduate degrees. (Brookings)

In 2020-21, 47% of federal student loans went to graduate students. (College Board)

Student Loan Debt Statistics by School Type

On average, private school students graduate with over $5,000 more in student debt than their public school counterparts. (Statista)

In the class of 2020, 57% of students graduating from private nonprofit four-year schools had student loan debt. (College Board)

Students from public institutions hold 43% of the total federal student loan debt. (Federal Student Aid) 

In the 2019-20 academic year, 68% of first-time students attending private for-profit institutions took out student loans. (National Center for Education Statistics)

Over $0.5 trillion of federal student loan debt is owed by borrowers who attended private institutions. (Federal Student Aid) 

In the 2019-20 academic year, over half of first-time students attending private nonprofit institutions took out student loans. (National Center for Education Statistics)

In the class of 2020, 55% of students graduating from public four-year schools had student loan debt. (College Board)

In the 2019-20 academic year, 42% of first-time students attending public institutions took out student loans. (National Center for Education Statistics)

Student Loan Debt Statistics by Gender

Women hold roughly two-thirds of U.S. student loan debt. (American Association of University Women)

On average, women hold $31,276 in student debt. (American Association of University Women) 

For women, the average monthly payment for student loans is $307 one year after college. (American Association of University Women)

One-third of women say that over 25% of their income goes toward paying off student loans. (Student Debt Crisis)

On average, women repay their college debt at a slower rate than men. (American Association of University Women)

Female college graduates are 1.1% more likely to reach loan default within four years after college than male college graduates. (American Association of University Women)

Student Loan Debt Statistics by State

A U.S. map highlights ten states with the highest average student loan debt.

Average Student Loan Debt by State (Class of 2020)

According to The Institute for College Access & Success, the average student loan debt is over $30,000 in 19 states. For a complete breakdown of the average student debt by state, follow the table below:

State
Average Student Loan Debt

Alabama
$30,996

Alaska
$26,356

Arizona
$24,298

Arkansas
$27,319

California
$21,125

Colorado
$26,424

Connecticut
$35,853

Delaware
$39,705

District of Columbia
$32,966

Florida
$24,454

Georgia
$27,759

Hawaii
$24,926

Idaho
$24,983

Illinois
$28,552

Indiana
$28,521

Iowa
$29,560

Kansas
$26,002

Kentucky
$28,356

Louisiana
$26,284

Maine
$32,764

Maryland
$30,461

Massachusetts
$33,457

Michigan
$29,863

Minnesota
$32,012

Mississippi
$29,714

Missouri
$28,713

Montana
$27,114

Nebraska
$26,781

Nevada
$21,357

New Hampshire
$39,928

New Jersey
$35,117

New Mexico
$20,868

New York
$30,951

North Carolina
$29,681

North Dakota
$31,939

Ohio
$30,605

Oklahoma
$27,876

Oregon
$26,504

Pennsylvania
$39,375

Rhode Island
$36,791

South Carolina
$32,635

South Dakota
$32,029

Tennessee
$26,852

Texas
$26,273

Utah
$18,344

Vermont
$34,866

Virginia
$29,616

Washington
$23,993

West Virginia
$29,208

Wisconsin
$30,270

Wyoming
$23,510

While some of these student loan debt statistics may make affording college seem impossible, there are many ways you can successfully navigate the student loan waters. From spending extra time saving for college to choosing a lower-cost university, you too can be on the way to paying off your student debt.

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FAQs About Student Loan Debt

With many students pursuing different types of loans, schools, and degrees, understanding student loan debt can be a tricky topic to wrap your head around. Below, you’ll find the answers to some of the most common student loan debt questions.

How Much Student Loan Debt Is There?

As of 2022, the total student loan debt in America has reached over $1.7 trillion.

 What Is the Average Student Loan Debt?

The average student loan debt in the U.S. for an undergraduate student is $28,400. For graduate students, the average student loan debt can range from $55,000-$75,000, depending on the degree program.

What Percentage of the Population Has Student Loan Debt?

Roughly 20% of Americans hold student loans.

How Do You Get Rid of Student Loan Debt?

Whether you’ve graduated, have a child in school, or are looking to pay off your student loans while in college, you may be wondering how to get rid of student loan debt.

If possible, it may be best for you to start making payments while still in school. This may help you cut into your debt before it grows, especially due to interest. If you’re already out of school, there are many different debt payoff methods you can choose from to help you pay off your student loan debt.

An infographic details various student loan debt statistics, ranging from loan types, location, borrower demographics, and more.

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