Average Student Loan Debt in America: 2017 Facts & Figures

Our team of analysts at ValuePenguin decided to dive into the data behind how much people across the country owed on their student loans. We discovered that the average outstanding balance of borrowers is currently $26,700 (New York Fed) while the median student loan debt amount is $14,400.

American Student Loan Debt Statistics & Key Findings

  • Average student loan debt per borrower: $26,700
  • Between 2004 and 2014, the US saw an almost 90% increase in the number of student loan borrowers, in addition to a nearly 80% uptick in average balance size
  • The number of current student loan borrowers is about 9 million, down from its 2012 peak of 12 million.
  • Half of student loan borrowers are under 25 years of age
 

Average Student Loan Debt in The United States

The mean dollar amount of outstanding student loans per person in America is $26,700 according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel. This number is the most current data point available and was sourced in Q4 of 2015.

In aggregate terms, the total student loan debt outstanding in the country was $346 billion in 2004, and has ballooned to $1.23 trillion as of late 2015. This represents a more than 250% increase in total student loan debt in just over 10 years.

The figures in the chart below are in billions:

Year Total Balance % Increase Since 2004
2004 $346 -
2005 392 13%
2006 479 38%
2007 541 56%
2008 633 83%
2009 714 106%
2010 803 132%
2011 865 150%
2012 959 177%
2013 1,069 209%
2014 1,154 233%
2015 1,231 256%

Throughout the course of our research and analysis on student loan debt, we noticed several interesting differences when looking at data across varying demographics. Below we’ll explore these disparities and show you how the average student loan debt fluctuates amongst borrowers.

Average Student Loan Debt by State

The average student loan debt varies widely across states. Data from The Institute for College Access & Success suggests that the average borrower from New Hampshire has $36,101 worth of student loan debt that still needs to be paid. This is the highest in the country. New Hampshire is followed by Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island, as having the most student loan indebted citizens in the USA. Conversely, former students that reside in Utah and borrowed for school only have $18,873 left to payoff on their student loans – only half of the burden that those in New Hampshire are looking at. Rounding out the Top 5 states with the least indebted former students are New Mexico, California, Wyoming and Florida.

The table below shows the average student loan debt by state with their corresponding ranking. Additionally, we’re including the percentage of graduates in each state that have outstanding student loan debt.

Rank State % with Debt Average Debt
1 New Hampshire 76% $36,101
2 Pennsylvania 71% $34,798
3 Connecticut 64% $34,773
4 Delaware 65% $33,849
5 Rhode Island 64% $32,920
6 Minnesota 70% $31,526
7 Massachusetts 66% $31,466
8 District Of Columbia 55% $31,452
9 South Carolina 60% $30,564
10 Ohio 66% $30,239
11 New Jersey 66% $30,104
12 Michigan 63% $30,045
13 Mississippi 62% $29,942
14 Maine 63% $29,644
15 Iowa 66% $29,547
16 Wisconsin 70% $29,460
17 South Dakota 73% $29,364
18 New York 59% $29,320
19 Illinois 66% $29,305
20 Alabama 52% $29,153
21 Indiana 61% $29,022
22 Vermont 62% $28,283
23 Kansas 63% $28,008
24 Georgia 61% $27,754
25 Virginia 59% $27,717
26 West Virginia 68% $27,713
27 Oregon 63% $27,697
28 Maryland 56% $27,672
29 Idaho 71% $27,639
30 Missouri 61% $27,480
31 Texas 56% $27,324
32 Kentucky 64% $27,225
33 Louisiana 51% $26,865
34 Montana 60% $26,280
35 Nebraska 60% $26,235
36 Alaska 55% $26,171
37 Tennessee 60% $26,083
38 Arkansas 57% $26,082
39 Colorado 56% $25,840
40 North Carolina 61% $25,645
41 Oklahoma 52% $24,849
42 Washington 57% $24,600
43 Arizona 56% $23,780
44 Nevada 47% $23,462
45 Hawaii 50% $23,456
46 Florida 53% $23,379
47 Wyoming 46% $22,683
48 California 54% $22,191
49 New Mexico 58% $20,193
50 Utah 41% $18,873

Average Student Loan Debt by Age Group

Looking at the age group breakdowns from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, there are more borrowers under 30 years of age than there are in any other age bucket. Interestingly though from a percentage growth standpoint, the number of borrowers under 30 has not increased as much over the last 10 years as 30, 40, 50, and 60+ year olds have.

 

The second way to look at student loan debt by age group is to peek into how loan balances have grown and where they currently stand. Since 2004, student loan balances across all age groups have increased on average by 256%. The most drastic percentage increase was seen by those over 60 years of age, a whopping 1,000% - from $6 to $67 billion. However, the majority of outstanding student loan balances are held by borrowers who are in their 20s or 30s. These age groups account for almost 65% of all student loan debt. Again, figures in our table are in billions.

Year under 30 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
2004 $146 $114 $49 $31 $6
2005 $161 $129 $56 $38 $8
2006 $194 $154 $69 $48 $13
2007 $217 $171 $82 $55 $16
2008 $248 $202 $96 $67 $20
2009 $273 $229 $109 $78 $25
2010 $299 $257 $127 $91 $29
2011 $312 $281 $140 $97 $35
2012 $320 $320 $163 $113 $43
2013 $356 $354 $184 $126 $49
2014 $369 $383 $208 $136 $58
2015 $376 $408 $230 $150 $67

Average Student Loan Debt by Gender and Race

While much has been written about student loan debt payments making up a larger portion of womens' paychecks, our chart below will also look at how much these student loan payments are eating into minorities take home pay, too. This is calculated by taking a person's total student loan debt and dividing it by their annual income one year post-graduation. On average, student debt balances of African Americans are the largest percentage of income, while Asian Americans enjoy the lowest percentage.

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