What is the average student loan debt by state? This map breaks it down.
Student loan debt is a major burden on Americans, which has grown exponentially over the years. Not only have tuition fees skyrocketed over the past few decades, but the job market also demands increasingly advanced degrees just to earn a living wage.
Today Americans owe a collective $ 1.4 trillion debt in federal student loans. Many have delayed important life milestones, such as buying a home and starting a family, due to financial constraints imposed by debt. And that’s bad news for the economy in general, because economic growth depends on people’s spending and investment. Student loan debt is a losing situation (except universities, of course).
With the election of Joe biden as the country’s next president, however, there is some hope that existing federal student loan debt can be canceled as early as January – at least in part.
Senatorial Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) recently urged Biden to use executive action to cancel up to $ 50,000 in student debt per person as a form of economic stimulus. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) And Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) both publicly endorsed the idea.
But what would that actually mean for borrowers in the United States? A $ 50,000 break is a lot of money, but it goes much further in some parts of the country than in others. Check out the map below to see how much student debt is owed across the country and find out where students owe the most.
States with the highest and lowest federal student loan debt
A new report by Upgraded Points examined federal student debt across the country and determined which states collectively hold the most and the least amount of debt using data from the federal student aid office. While the stress of student debt knows no bounds, borrowers in some parts of the country are certainly more overwhelmed than others.
Not surprisingly, California is responsible for the largest amount of federal student debt with a total of approximately $ 137.8 billion owed by residents. In second place is Texas, where a total of $ 110.6 billion in federal student debt is owed. Florida, where borrowers have a total of $ 93.4 billion in student loans to repay, rounds out the top three.
Wyoming is on the opposite end of this spectrum with less than $ 1.6 billion in collective student loan debt. Alaska has the second lowest amount of debt at $ 2.2 billion, followed by North Dakota with $ 2.4 billion.
There is clearly a trend between the population and the total amount of debt in each state, although the two are not perfectly aligned (Illinois, for example, is the fifth most populous state but the eighth in total debt. ). Despite this, the 10 most populous states are the same 10 states with the most total student debt, according to Kalina MacKay, research assistant at Upgraded Points. She noted that there were no significant outliers in the data.
However, it’s important to note that total student debt by state only paints part of the picture. States like California and Texas can house a large chunk of the nation’s student loan debt, but borrowers aren’t necessarily worse off than those in other states.
The report also calculated the average student loan debt held per student in each state. Washington, DC has the highest federal debt per borrower with an average of $ 54,905 (you may have to zoom in on the map to see). Next come Maryland ($ 42,431) and Georgia ($ 41,310). Conversely, borrowers in North Dakota are the least indebted with an average of $ 28,935 per person, followed by Iowa ($ 30,127) and Wyoming ($ 30,192). For comparison, the national average is $ 34,909.
In other words, the average debt per individual borrower is not as much dictated by the population as by the region. Many of the highest balances are from borrowers near the East Coast, while the lowest balances tend to be in the Midwest.
Why? MacKay said differences in degrees and education levels can play a big role in locating the highest balances. “There are a lot of masters and doctorates. programs in places like DC, so it’s likely that more students in those fields would take out more loans to pursue graduate studies, which would significantly affect the average, ”she said.
The cost of living is another factor that needs to be taken into account, she said. An apartment or dorm in DC or Maryland is usually much more expensive than in North Dakota or Iowa. Students in higher cost areas may be required to take out more loans to account for these additional expenses.
What should a borrower do?
Growing student debt is a complicated problem that affects millions of Americans. “This research proves that students are not alone in their financial difficulties, although it can sometimes seem like it,” said MacKay.
While there is talk of canceling some or all of the existing federal student loans once Biden is president, there’s also a lot of hindsight. Borrowers hoping for some type of student debt relief shouldn’t expect this to happen anytime soon.
“Paying off student loans will be different for everyone,” MacKay said. That’s why it’s important to take a proactive role in your financial situation, know how much you owe, and be aware of all your repayment options.