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See where consumers stand with student debt in the U.S.

Each year scores of individuals head to college. Some view attending college as a rite of passage, while others see it as a means of obtaining better paying jobs; some go because they’ve told it’s the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to pay the cost of higher education out of pocket –especially right out of school when it can be tough to find a job that pays what you really need. What’s more, students often have to leave school before they can earn their degree, but they’re still on the hook for any debt they incurred. As a result, you can find yourself in a situation where you have the bills of a higher education without the income to match.

With this in mind, is it any wonder that so many people face payments they can’t make and defaulted debt that can’t be easily erased through bankruptcy? The statistics below provide an overview of where we stand with student loan debt in the U.S. If you’re struggling and need help to lower your payments so you can afford to pay back what you owe, call us at 1-888-472-0365 to connect with the help you need.

General stats about student loan debtGeneral student loan debt statistics

Federal loans:

  • The national student loan debt hovers over $1.48 trillion [1]
  • The average student in the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt[2]
  • Number of Federal student loans guaranteed or held by the federal government by the end of 2016 — over $1.4 trillion [3]
  • Average monthly student loan payment (for borrowers aged 20 to 30 years): $351 (2018)[1]
  • Total number of borrowers with federal student loans — 44.2 million [1]
  • Four out of five 2016 graduates with state loan debt attended schools in just four states: Texas, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and New Jersey that awarded only 14% of bachelor’s degrees.[2]

The increasing cost of educationAffording a higher education

  • Only 30% of undergraduates took federal student loans in 2016-17.[4]
  • In 2016-17, 5% of undergraduate students borrowed subsidized loans only, 5% borrowed unsubsidized loans only, and 20% borrowed from both programs.[4]
  • Nearly seven in 10 seniors (68%) who graduated from public and non-profit colleges in 2015 had student loan debt.[2]

The highs and lows of college tuitionThe highs and lows of paying for school

For the 2017-2018 academic school year:

  • National average for in-state tuition and fee prices at a public four-year institution — $9,970[5]
  • National average for in-state tuition and fee prices at public two-year institutions — $3,570[5]
  • National average for four-year public out-of-state tuition and fee prices – $25,620 [5]
  • National average for a private non-profit tuition and fee prices – $34,740[5]

By State:

  • States with the highest published out-of-state tuition and fees for public four-year institutions: (1) Vermont — $38,990, (2) Michigan — $36,840[6]
  • The lowest published out-of-state tuition and fees for public four-year colleges and universities: (1) South Dakota — $12,480, (2) Average in Wyoming — $16,830[6]
  • States with the highest published in-state tuition and fees for public two-year institutions: (1) New Hampshire— $16,070, (2) Vermont– $16,040[6]
  • The lowest published in-state tuition and fees for public two‑year colleges in 2013-14: (1) Wyoming — $5,220, (2) Florida — $6,360[6]

Student loan interest rate statsStudent loan interest rate statistics

Loan Type2018-19 Rate2017-18 Rate2016-17 Rate
Direct Subsidized Loans (Undergraduate)5.05%4.45%3.76%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans (Undergraduate)5.05%4.45%3.76%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans (Graduate)6.60%6%5.31%
Direct PLUS Loans (Graduate and Parents)7.60%7%6.31%



Student loan defaultWhat the rise in interest rates means for borrowers

  • The increase in the interest rates will increase the monthly loan payments by about 2.8%, assuming a 10-year repayment term. (For most borrowers that yields an increase of a few dollars a month.)[11]
Loan type10-year Treasury NoteIncrementCapFixed interest rate
Federal Stafford (Graduate)3.00%3.60%9.50%6.60%
Federal Parent PLUS3.00%4.60%10.50%7.60%
Federal Grad PLUS3.00%4.60%10.50%7.60%


Student debt default statistics

  • 1 million borrowers default each year[8]
  • 40% of borrowers will default by 2023[9]
[1] https://studentloanhero.com/student-loan-debt-statistics/


[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student_loans_in_the_United_States




[7] https://www.accesslex.org/xblog/2017-2018-interest-rates-announced

[8] https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2018/10/01/student-loans-default/#3c2ed0eba066


[10] https://www.accesslex.org/xblog/2018-19-federal-student-loan-interest-rates-announced


Article last modified on October 14, 2019. Published by Debt.com, LLC