What’s The Median Student Loan Debt in America?

With the cost of college going up every year, the median student loan debt in America is higher than ever. It is the second-highest consumer debt in the US. Here are some of the highlights of the latest statistics on student loan debt in America. 

Snapshot of Total Student Loan Debt 

Currently, the total student loan debt in the country is $1.757 trillion. This total debt takes into account both federal and private student loans. 

43.8 million borrowers carry an outstanding federal student loan debt balance of $1.635 trillion in total. This makes up more than 90% of the total student loan debt. Less than 10% of the total outstanding balance is in private student loans. 

Public university students take as much as $31,410 each in student loans to cover the cost of earning a bachelor’s degree over four years. Let’s break it down a few more ways.

Federal Student Loan Debt

The annual total amount the federal government loans to postsecondary students is estimated to be $83.68 billion. Postsecondary students include those pursuing graduate and professional studies. 30% of undergrad students apply for federal student loans, while 66% of grad students apply for the same. 

Students take on several different types of federal student loans to cover the cost of college. The statistics below reflect the average student loan debt for the different types of federal student loans. 

Stafford Loans constitute 53% of the total federal student loan, with unsubsidized Stafford loans accounting for 35.1% of the total and 17.9% accounting for the balance. 

The second highest is Direct consolidated loans, which constitutes 34.3% of the total federal student debt. Students pursuing graduate school have total student loan debt of 5.9% in Grad PLUS loans. 

Parent PLUS loans, which are only granted to parents on behalf of their children, make up less than 10% of the total. And Perkins loans account for less than 0.5% of the total student loan debt. 

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Private Student Loan Debt

Private student loans make up 6.9% of the total outstanding student loan debt of $1.757 trillion. Undergrad student loans make up more than 88% of the total private student loan debt, while grad student loans account for a little over 11% of the total.  

Median Student Loan Debt by Age

58% of adults aged 18 to 29 years are currently paying off their student loan debt. 60% of adults aged 30 to 44 years still have student loans to pay off. 

Borrowers in their thirties carry almost 33% of the total federal student loan debt. 

The largest number of indebted federal student loan borrowers are between 25 and 34 years of age. They make up almost 50 % of the total number of borrowers still paying off their student loan debt. Each borrower in this group owes the federal government an average of $33,430. 

The second largest number of indebted federal student loan borrowers are below 25 years of age. They make up less than 25% of the total number of borrowers still paying off their student loan debt. These under-25-year-old borrowers have average debt of $15,028. 

Indebted borrowers 62 years and older make up less than 10% in this category. Borrowers 62 and older owe the federal government an average of $40,560. This includes Parent PLUS loans.  

21% of bachelor’s degree holders have been delinquent in student loan payments at least once by the age of 30. Among associate’s degree holders, the percentage of students who’ve been delinquent in their payments jumps up to 37%. 

Student Loan Debt by Degree

Not surprisingly, a look at the median student loan debt by degree shows that students with higher degrees take on more student loans. 

The average federal student loan debt among students who have earned an associate’s degree is $23,500. 

For bachelor’s degree holders, the average federal student loan debt jumps to $34,800. 

Grad students owe much more, with each grad student owing an average federal student loan debt of $90,170. 

Of the students who choose to pursue graduate school, about 54% owe federal student loans from grad school while 60% still have unpaid federal student loans from undergrad school. 

Among students who’ve earned professional doctorates, an estimated 73% have federal student loan debt from grad school, while about 74% still have unpaid federal student loans from undergrad school.  

The median student loan debt stats above do not take into consideration student debt cancellation. This one-time relief measure announced by President Biden promised to cancel up to $20,000 in student loans for qualifying borrowers. However, the promised student loan cancellation is still on pause due to legal issues. If this gets passed the median American student loan debt will drop drastically.  

At College Raptor, our goal is to help you find the most affordable way to go to college. If you do need a student loan to help fill the gap between grants, scholarships, and savings, use our Student Loan Finder tool to quickly and easily find and compare loans from reputed lenders to help you find the most affordable option. 

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