Author’s Note:

All over the internet and on every news station, you will either find or hear quite possibly one of the most quoted statistics in modern times. No, it isn’t the U.S. Government debt toll, but you aren’t too far off the mark!

Student loan debt. It’s one stat that is currently gripping the nation at a hefty $1.4+ trillion. It’s got plenty of people worried including students, graduates, parents, employers, and politicians alike. Well, it is not to be understated to say the least; in fact, it is the second leading form of debt in the United States behind mortgage debt (another monster to worry about elsewhere).

Student loan debt is a popular issue, to be sure, depending on your definition of popular, of course. As a news outlet, staying up-to-date on statistics is crucial just like any other industry. With that being said, here is my summarization of (and research for) reported student loan debt statistics. If you happen to have any questions about where these statistics come from or see something missing that might be a great addition, then feel free to contact me!

-Drew​

Page Last Updated: 12/5/17

Overall Statistics

Before delving into the nitty-gritty details, it is best to give an overall snapshot of the current student loan debt situation. Here are a few statistics that will give you a better idea of where the nation stands with its second leading form of debt: 

· National Student Loan Debt - $1,410,000,000,000 ($1.41 trillion)

· Overall Number of Student Loan Borrowers45,000,000 (~70%of college students)

· Student Loan Default Rate11.5%

· Student Loan Delinquency Rate5.41%

· Average Debt per Student Borrower - $31,333

(Resource: Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax, Federal Student Loan Portfolio)

Federal Statistics

A significant portion, and majority, of outstanding student loans are supplied by the Federal government, or more specifically the Department of Education. There are various different types of loans available to anyone who fills out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Here is a comprehensive breakdown on funding and participation in Federal student aid programs.

Federal Funding Distribution by Loan Program

Loan ProgramOutstanding Debt (billions)Portion of Total DebtBorrowers (millions)Portion of Borrowers
Direct Loan$1,01776.0%32.064.3%
Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL)$31323.4%15.230.5%
Perkins Loan$8.000.60%2.605.20%

Federal Funding Distribution by Loan Type

Loan TypeOutstanding Debt (billions)Portion of Total DebtBorrowers (miilions)Portion of Borrowers
Subsidized Stafford$27020.2%29.038.3%
Unusbsidized Stafford$45033.7%27.636.5%
Grad PLUS$57.04.26%1.101.45%
Parent PLUS$80.56.02%3.404.50%
Perkins$7.800.58%2.603.43%
Consolidation$47235.3%12.015.9%
Federal Loan Type

Federal Distribution by Loan Payment Status

Direct Loans

Loan Repayment StatusOutstanding Debt (billions)Portion of Direct Loan DebtBorrowers (millions)Portion of Direct Loan Borrowers
In-School$12011.8%6.5018.1%
Grace Period$41.74.10%1.704.72%
Repayment$55454.5%17.247.8%
Deferment$10910.7%3.409.44%
Forbearance$10610.4%2.607.22%
Default$78.97.77%4.4012.2%
Other$7.800.77%0.200.56%
direct loan repayment status

Federal Family Education Loan​ (FFEL)

Loan Repayment StatusOutstanding Debt (billions)Portion of FFEL DebtBorrowers (millions)Portion of FFEL Borrowers
In-School$0.800.26%0.100.63%
Grace Period$0.300.10%< 0.10< .01%
Repayment$19763.1%9.6060.0%
Deferment$16.85.37%0.905.63%
Forbearance$27.68.83%1.106.88%
Default$65.020.8%4.1025.6%
Other$4.901.57%0.201.25%
FFEL repayment status graph

Federal Repayment Plan Distribution

Direct Loans

Repayment PlanOutstanding Debt (billions)Portion of Direct DebtBorrowers (millions)Portion of Direct Borrowers
Level Repayment (<10 Years)$20727.0%11.348.9%
Level Repayment (>10 Years)$77.010.0%1.717.38%
Graduated Repayment (<10 Years)$77.110.0%2.8712.4%
Graduated Repayment (>10 Years)$13.71.78%0.301.29%
Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)$26.13.40%0.622.67%
Income-Based Repayment (IBR)$17022.1%2.9612.8%
Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Repayment$58.57.62%1.114.79%
Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)$82.610.8%1.596.86%
Alternate/Other Repayment$56.27.36%0.682.94%

Federal Family Education Loan​

Repayment PlanOutstanding Debt (billions)Portion of FFEL DebtBorrowers (millions)Portion of FFEL Borrowers
Level Repayment (<10 Years)$24.543.0%2.3454.8%
Level Repayment (>10 Years)$2.284.00%0.071.64%
Graduated Repayment (<10 Years)$7.1912.6%0.6214.5%
Graduated Repayment (>10 Years)$0.010.02%<.01<.001%
Income-Sensitive Repayment (ISR)$0.050.09%<.01<.001%
Income-Based Repayment (IBR)$22.439.2%1.2328.8%
Alternate/Other Repayment$0.631.10%0.010.23%

(Resource:​ Federal Student Loan Portfolio)

​Private Statistics

Private student loans are growing in popularity since reaching an all-time low in the academic years of 2010-2011.

While federal student loans still eclipse private lending by a landslide, private alternatives are becoming more viable options for students as the dynamic market drives interest rates. Students also take out non-federal loans from third parties such as state governments and institutions.

In addition, many graduates take advantage of student loan refinancing and consolidation once they graduate to save on their private student loans.

· National Non-Federal Student Loan Debt - $11,600,000,000 ($11.6 billion)

· Number of Non-Federal Student Loan Borrowers - 1.37 million (~6% of borrowers)

· Non-Federal student loan debt is down 55.0% since the crisis in 2007-2008; however, total outstanding debt has increased by 38.1% since the all-time low in 2010-2011. (see table below)

Non Federal Debt

(Resources: The Institute for College Access & Success. Trends in Student Aid 2016 from The College Board.)

Graduate Statistics

· 40% of the overall student loan debt total is accounted for by graduate borrowers. ($563 billion)

· Six graduate programs account for 61.8% of graduate student loan debt.

Degree ProgramPortion of Grad Debt
Master of Science18.1%
Education Masters16.2%
Business Administration10.9%
Master of Arts7.70%
Medicine5.40%
Law3.50%
Total61.8%
Student Loan Debt Statistics

(Resource: Trends in Student Aid 2014 from The College Board. National Postsecondary Student Aid Study)

Average Student Loan Debt Per Graduate by State

Many prospective college students assume that they have to deal with a hefty sum of student loan debt, and while the national average student loan debt per graduate supports this assumption, the state-by-state breakdown tells a much different story.


Students who pick the right state can increase the chances of minimizing their student debt after graduation. Here are the overall state rankings in terms of average student loan debt per graduate.

RankStateAvg Debt Per Grad
1Utah$7,545
2Wyoming$11,420
3Arizona$11,564
4New Mexico$11,788
5California$12,002
6Nevada$12,549
7Oklahoma$12,551
8Alaska$12,790
9Florida$12,915
10Hawaii$13,027
11Washington$13,104
12Louisiana$13,442
13Arkansas$13,995
14Colorado$14,013
15Texas$14,589
16North Carolina$14,822
17Maryland$14,990
18Tennessee$15,302
19North Dakota$15,444
20Alabama$15,901
21Nebraska$15,933
22Oregon$15,991
23Georgia$16,375
24Washington DC$16,534
25Virginia$16,535
26Indiana$17,013
RankStateAvg Debt Per Grad
27Kansas$17,255
28Kentucky$17,327
29Mississippi$17,693
30Idaho$17,906
31Vermont$17,912
32South Carolina$17,918
33New Jersey$18,331
34Maine$18,418
35Montana$18,689
36Illinois$18,783
37Missouri$18,992
38Massachusetts$19,023
39Rhode Island$19,078
40Iowa$19,301
41Ohio$19,339
42Michigan$19,593
43New York$19,946
44Wisconsin$20,104
45West Virginia$21,189
46Delaware$21,259
47Connecticut$21,348
48Minnesota$21,665
49South Dakota$23,641
50Pennsylvanica$24,622
51New Hampshire$27,167

(Resource: https://studentloans.net/debt-per-graduate-statistics-2017/)

©2017