What Is The Average Student Loan Debt In America? Plus Over 99 College Debt Statistics! (2021)

There seems to be no end to student loan debt, and now with the average student loan debt being over $30,000 per student borrower, it feels like we will be paying for school for quite some time. But can we use these statistics to understand a pattern and figure out how to slow down this huge American debt?

In this post, you will find everything you need to know about the average student loan debt, the total student loan debt, borrower statistics, and much more.

Top Student Loan Debt Statistics: 

  • $1.7 Trillion is the current and total student loan debt. 
  • The average student loan debt per borrower is over $30,000
  • There are 44.7 Million borrowers with student loan debt 
  • On average, graduate students leave college with $66,000 in student debt
  • 20% of all federal student loans are in default compared to just 10.1% for private student loans. 
  • There was a 4% increase in student loan debt in 2020
  • There was a 107% increase in student loan debt this decade. 
  • 69% of the Class of 2018 took out student loans 
  • 92% of student loan debt is federal
  • There is $135 Billion in private student loan debt. 

Average Student Loan & College Debt Statistics

What Is The Average Student Loan Debt In America?


The average student loan debt in America is more than $30,000 per student borrower, which is more than a 26% increase in the amounts students have borrowed in the past. This is no surprise since the average total student loan debt has jumped more than $1,000 some years over the last decade.  

Key Statistics:


  • The average student loan debt per borrower is over $30,000 
  • 2019 college graduates that took out student loans, on average, borrowed $30,062. 
  • That number is $6,300 more than student borrowers from the class of 2009
  • Over the last decade, student borrowing has increased by more than 26%
  • In 2009, about 68% of college graduates took on student loan debt vs 65% in 2019.
  • Some years have seen more than a $1,000 jump in the average student loan debt
  • The average monthly student loan payment is between $200 and $300 per month.
  • In 2016, 83% of graduates from for-profit four-year colleges had student loan debt.
  • In 2016, the average student graduated with $39,900 in college debt. 
  • 62% of 2019 college graduates graduated with student debt. 
  • Among these graduates, the average student loan debt was $28,950
  • On average, 2018 college graduates that took out a loan owe $29,200 
  • The average American household that has student loan debt owes around $47,671

How Much Student Loan Debt Is There In The U.S.?


In 2020 the national student loan debt was over $1.7 trillion, about a 4% increase from 2019. The student loan debt was around $1.6 trillion. This isn’t good news when you consider that 2 out of 10 students in 2018 who took out student loans are behind on their payments.

Key Statistics:


  • $1.7 Trillion is the current and total student loan debt.
  • About 43% of all Americans who attended college took on some type of debt to go to school in the past. 
  • Currently 54% of all Americans that attend college need to take out some type of debt to be able to afford to go.
  • 93% of education debt is in the form of student loans
  • 31% of people used other forms of borrowing for their college needs.
  • 24% of Students funded their college through credit cards 
  • 7% of Students funded their college with home equity lines of credit
  • 12% of Students funded their college with other types of credit
  • $500 billion in federal student loan debt is owed by borrowers between the ages of 25 and 34. 
  • The largest amount of student loan debt (around $602 billion), is owed by borrowers aged 35 to 49.
  • Only $262 billion is owed by people who are aged 50 to 61

How Much Has Student Debt Increased?


Student loan debt has increased by 4% as of the third quarter of 2020. This is based on a comparison of the third quarter of 2019. However, this number seems small when you look at the past decade, which saw a 107% increase in student debt.

Key Statistics:


  • There was a 4% increase in student loan debt in 2020
  • There was a 107% increase in student loan debt this decade. 

Growth of Student Loan Debt (in trillions):


Year

Debt (in trillions) 

2020

1.7

2019

1.4

2018

1.3

2017

1.3

2016

1.2

2015

1.1

2014

1.1

What Percentage Of Student Loan Debt Is Federal?


92% of all student loan debt is Federal, and of that, 52.8% is in Stafford Loans. Just around 35.5% of federal student loan debt is in the form of direct consolidated loans. Parents account for about 6.4% of student loan debt through Parent PLUS loans.

Key Statistics:


  • 92% of student loan debt is federal
  • Stafford Loans accounts for around 52.8% of federal student loan debt
  • 18.6 percent of federal debt is in subsidized Stafford loans
  • Unsubsidized Stafford loans account for 34.2% of loans
  • Direct Consolidated loans account for 35.5 percent of federal student loan debt
  • Parent PLUS loans account for 6.4% of student loan debt borrowed by parents. 
  • Graduate and professional students carry 5% of student loan debt by way of Grad PLUS loans.
  • Perkins loans are responsible for 0.4% of student loan debt 
  • Annually the federal government loans out $45.3 billion to 44.4% of all postsecondary students. 
  • $77 billion for federal direct student loans and $13.3 billion for FFEL loans are budgeted for every year by the ED.
  • $90.2 billion is budgeted for all loan programs, leaving $44.9 billion leftover after distribution to students.

What Is The Average Private Student Loan Debt?


$29,000 was the average private student loan debt in America during the 2017 to 2018 school year. The Average debt for private non-profit colleges and universities was $33,500. In total, there is $135 Billion in private student loan debt. 

Key Statistics:


  • There is $135 Billion in private student loan debt. 
  • Undergraduate loans account for 88.5% of all private student loan debt. 
  • Graduate loans account for 11.5% of all private student loan debt. 
  • Student loans from private sources such as banks and credit unions account for 13% of student debt
  • Student debt in the private sector hit around $13.1 billion in the 2018-2019 school year. 
  • 39% of private loan borrowers In 2015-2016 attended schools that had tuition costs of $10,000 or less.
  • The class of 2018 had 17% of their student loans come from the private sector. 
  • In April of 2019 interest rates for private loans ran up to 14.24
  • Only 5% of the $259 billion dollars borrowed by students was private loans for the 2018-2019 school year. 

What Is The Private Student Loan Default Rate?


Around 10.1% of private student loan debt is in default, down from 10.8% in previous years.  Colleges that were for-profit had the highest default rates at 15.2% and public colleges had 9.6% default rate.  The lowest default rate went to private colleges with a rate of 6.6%.

Sources:


Number Of Americans In Student Loan Debt

How Many College Students Are In Debt?


There are 44.7 Million college students in debt, and on average, each of them owes more than $37,000 in education debt. 6.5% of that student loan debt is at least 90 days past due or in default.

Key Statistics:


  • There are 44.7 Million borrowers with student loan debt 
  • 2 out of 10 students in 2018 who took out student loans are behind on their payments
  • In 2019 people over the age of 60 in America owed over $86b in student loan debt
  • 6.5% of student loan debt is at least 90 days past due or in default.
  • In 2019, 43 million Americans held some debt from trying to get a college degree.
  • Adults represent 14.% of student loan debt.

How Many Student Loans Are In Default


20% of student loans are in default, and according to the U.S. Department of Education -- default is defined as having gone 270 days without a payment. Unfortunately, each year about 1 Million student loans go into default.

Key Statistics:


  • 20% of all federal student loans are in default compared to just 10.1% for private student loans. 
  • Each year more than 1 million student loans go into default. .
  • After restoring their loans to good standing 25% of borrowers defaulted again on their loan within 5 years. 
  • Of the 4.2 Million borrowers who entered repayment in 2019 -- 417,429 of them defaulted on their loans.

Student Loan Default Rates By College Type


College Type

Default Rate

Private For-Profit Colleges:

14.7%

Public Non-Profit Colleges

9.3%

Private Non-Profit Colleges

6.7%

Foreign Colleges

2.9%

Total Default Rate

9.7%

Sources:


Average Graduate Student Loan Debt Statistics

How Much Debt Does The Average College Graduate Have?


The average college graduate has about $66,000 in debt when they graduate. This doesn’t include the undergraduate debt, which takes the total to more than $71,000 in debt when everything is said and done.

Key Statistics:


  • On average, graduate students leave college with $66,000 in student debt
  • Only 36% of student borrowers, still current on their loan, had reduced their balance over the last 12 months of 2019.
  • $71,000 was the average student loan debt for the class of 2015 - 2016. 
  • The average graduate student is looking at about $949 per month for their monthly loan payments
  • Graduates that obtain their master’s degree usually leave school owing $64,800 in debt.
  • Doctors who go for more specialized programs that last longer can owe around $183,200 in debt.

Percentage Of College Students That Are In Debt After College


70% of college students are still in debt after college. In 2020 the average graduate left school with around $30,000 in debt. In 2019 the average graduate left school with $29,900 in debt, and in 2018 the average graduate left school with $25,550 in debt.

Key Statistics:


  • 70% of college students take out student loans 
  • 21% of 25 to 39 year old's with at least a bachelor’s degree and outstanding student loans works more than one job.
  • Only 27% of college graduates with student loans say they are living fine.
  • Just 51% of millennials who graduate college with student loans think the benefits of their degree will outweigh its cost.
  • In May of 2018 66% of graduates from public colleges had loans with an average debt of $25,550.
  • In 2018 75% of graduates from private, nonprofit colleges had loans with an average debt of $32,300.
  • 88% of graduates from for-profit colleges took out student loans in 2018 with an average debt of $39,950
  • Almost half of student borrowers who go to for-profit colleges default on their student loan within 12 years
  • Only 12% of student borrowers that go to public college default on their student loan
  • 14% of students that go to a non-profit college default on their student loan.

Average College Debt By Graduate Program


Graduate Program

Debt

Medicine (Doctorate)

$246,000

Health Science(Doctorate)

$202,400

Law

$145,500

Education (Doctorate)

$111,900

Non-Education PhD

$98,800

Dentist

$292,169

Veterinarian (Graduate Degree Only)

$183,014

Pharmacist (Graduate Degree Only)

$172,329

General MBA

$66,300

Sources:


Student Loan Debt Demographic Statistics

How Are Different Demographics Affected By Student Loan Debt?


There are more than 70 million stray cats, dogs and animals living in the United States according to the Humane Society. Of those, only about 6 to 8 million of them will enter the 3,500 animal shelters a year.

Income & Financial Aid Key Statistics:


  • Almost half of student aid recipients are financially independent. 
  • 24% of financial aid recipients live with their parents. 
  • School-owned housing is responsible for housing 14% of financial aid recipients.
  • Around 15 percent of financial aid recipients are married.
  • Around 3.3 million students under the age of 40 are behind on their student loan payments.
  • 17% of student borrowers under the age of 25 are behind on their student loan payments.

Key Statistics By Sex or Gender:


  • Females represent about 57% of financial aid recipients.
  • Women are responsible for about 58% of all student loan debt.
  • Male students are more likely to have their parents take out a student loan for them. 
  • Women carry 16% of undergraduate student loan debt.
  • Some 8% of women students have postgraduate debt.

Race or Ethnicity Key Statistics:


  • Over Half (54%) of student loan debt is owed by White & Caucasian borrowers. 
  • African American college students are the most likely to get federal loans borrowing at a 49.4% rate.
  • Asian students are the least likely to get federal loans at about a rate of 38%
  • Alaska Native & American Indian students are least likely to borrow privately (2.6%).
  • 30% of African American college graduates that have a student loan default in the first 12 years of repayment.
  • Caucasian students are the most likely to receive private loans, with 7.1% borrowing privately
  • 48% of African American students owe an average of 12.5% more than they borrowed just 4 years after graduation.

Key Statistics By Age:


  • Every 5 years there is a 50% increase in student debt for borrowers over the age of 60. 
  • The highest average student loan debt is $42,600 per borrower and that belongs to people 35-year-of age.
  • Students under the age of 30 account for 77.2% of all aid recipients.
  • 17.7 percent of students with a student loan balance are under 25 years old.
  • 68.6% of indebted student borrowers are between 25 and 50 years old.
  • People aged 18 to 29 are twice as likely to have student loan debt than any other age group. 
  • African American Borrowers under the age of 40 are the second-most likely to be current with their loan payments. 

Educational Attainment Key Statistics:


  • 37% of all federal student loan dollars are borrowed by Graduate students. 
  • Some 60 percent of people who obtained an undergraduate degree owe an average of $16,940 each in federal loans.
  • Around 42 percent of people who received an associate’s degree owe an average of $21,890 each in federal loans.
  • 63 percent of people who got a bachelor’s degree owe an average of $31,790 in federal loans.
  • About 54% of students who got a master’s degree owe an average of $70,070 in federal loans.
  • 45 percent of students who went after their doctoral degree owe an average of $118,360.
  • Right around 71% of people who hold a professional degree owe an average of $199,540.

Key Student Loan Debt & Covid Statistics:


  • Around 20 million borrowers were offered student loan debt relief from the CARES Act in the 3rd quarter of 2020. 
  • The CARES Act of 2020 offered about 35 million Americans student debt relief.
  • Student Debt forbearance increased by 375% during the second and third quarters of 2020. 
  • The amount of student loan debt in repayment decreased by 82% in 2020
  • Until 2021 almost 60% of all debt from federal student loans will remain in forbearance. 
  • Over 12 million borrowers have loans in forbearance, which is a 20.5% increase from the previous quarter of 2020.
  • Only 0.7% of federal student loan borrowers have loans currently in repayment status.
  • 13.9% of students currently in school still owe money on their student loans. 
  • There was a 20% increase in federal student borrowers that have loans in grace period status
  • Over 7% of federal borrowers have loans in deferment status.
  • Currently, zero borrowers have loans that are considered delinquent.

Does Life Insurance Cover Student Loan Debt?


Yes, life insurance will cover student loan debt.  The proceeds from life insurance can be used for anything once the funds have been paid out.  It’s probably a solid idea for parents to take out a life insurance policy on their college kids if they co-sign their student loans

Sources:


Taking Action

Concluding Thoughts


We all know there is "BIG TALK" about getting rid of the current federal student loan debt via government forgiveness, but until that happens, eventually we will need to knock this average student loan debt down. 

This debt doesn't help at all when you consider that college students will still need renters insurance, car insurance, and even some type of life insurance to cover a student loan if they were to pass away. 

The most shocking statistic that we found was that there was a 107% increase in student loan debt over the last decade.  Hopefully these numbers won't keep going up.

Sources: 


Sa El

About the author

Sa El is the Co-Founder of Simply Insurance and a licensed Insurance Agent with over 13 years of experience in the industry.  He specializes in Life & Health Insurance and is certified in Long Term Care Insurance in the state of Georgia. a licensed real estate agent in the state of Georgia (License #382602), an entrepreneur, insurance educator, and freelance writer.

Sa El is the Co-Founder of Simply Insurance and a licensed Insurance Agent with over 13 years of experience in the industry.  He specializes in Life & Health Insurance and is certified in Long Term Care Insurance in the state of Georgia. a licensed real estate agent in the state of Georgia (License #382602), an entrepreneur, insurance educator, and freelance writer.


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