Understanding College Debt Levels and Student Loan Payments

Many families get buried in huge college debt and massive monthly loan payments that they didn’t expect after graduation. Unfortunately, that can greatly impact both the student who took out loans and their family members. This applies to both the time spent in college and well into the student’s future.

College Affordability

One of the reasons that we created College Raptor was to help make college more affordable for everyone. But even with our tool, many students and families will have to take on loans to pay for college costs.

The key to avoiding over-the-top student loan payments is to understand how much you’ll need to borrow throughout your college career and how much it will cost you once you start repayment.

College Raptor’s Calculator

College Raptor has a built-in debt burden calculator. It helps you see a quick approximation of how much debt you’ll accrue while in school. It also shows how manageable that debt will be upon graduation. We assign debt burden scores to every school, as you can see here:

The higher the debt burden, the harder it will be to repay the loan.

The higher the debt burden (the more bars that are filled in), the more difficult it will be for the student to repay their loans and live comfortably after graduation.

This is an estimate based on the net price of each college, the amount that the student and family indicated they could afford to pay out of pocket each year, and an estimated first-year salary of around $45,000.

Hovering over the dollar sign icon next to the debt burden indicator will show you a breakdown of your estimated debt level:

Although your starting salary may be different from our prediction, this scale is still useful. You see how colleges stack up against one another in terms of how much debt you’ll have to take on. It helps make college costs more understandable and transparent. By finding out your debt burden, students and their family can make an informed decision about how much to borrow and their ability to repay the loan.


Lender Rates (APR) Eligibility
Citizens logo.
6.98%-15.04%* Variable
5.99%-14.00%* Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Sallie Mae logo.
6.37% - 16.70% Variable
4.50% - 15.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Credibe company logo.
4.98% - 16.85% Variable
4.07% - 16.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Lendkey company logo.
6.07% - 11.31% Variable
4.39% - 10.39% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Ascent company logo.
6.24% - 15.85% Variable
4.29% - 15.76% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
6.54% - 11.08% Variable
3.95% - 8.01% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Earnest company logo.
5.62% - 16.85% Variable
4.39% - 16.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
4.98% - 12.79% Variable
8.42% - 13.01% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
College Raptor is not a loan lender and does not assume responsibility for suggesting a loan to a user who may not be eligible for it. Rates, terms, conditions, eligibility, approval, and other considerations are the decisions of the lenders and may vary depending on which lender or marketplace the user selects. We urge users to carefully consider and review all loan options and terms before committing to taking out a loan.

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