More than one out of every three households has student loan debt. Today's graduates from public colleges who have debt are, on average, facing $25,640 in student loans. That number has tripled in the last 8 years, and the growth shows no sign of slowing. Student loans take a heavy toll on households, too. A Pew Research study found that households without student loans are 7.4 times richer than those with student loans.
There's good news if the use of student loans lead to graduation. The average college grad aged 25-32 makes $17,500 more than their counterparts with only a high school diploma. Also, the unemployment rate among those with a bachelor's degree is 3.8 percent as compared to 12.2 percent for those with only a high school diploma.
This page contains student loan statistics gathered by the MoneyGeek.com editors. We will update the statistics here as we receive new and updated data. If you have student loan statistics you want to share, or if you have a question, comment or concern about what you see or don't see here, please send us an e-mail message.
Student Loan Amounts
- In 2015, total student loan debt is $1.2 trillion, which is second only to mortgages
- Over the last eight years, total educational debt has almost tripled
- The number of student loan borrowers and the amount each borrower owes have both risen 70 percent since 2004
- Seven in 10 seniors who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2014 had student loan debt, with an average of $28,950 per borrower
- For all borrowers, the average student debt is approximately $13,000, which is double the amount it was in 1989
- Average amount borrowed by associate degree (2-year) completers at public schools in 2012: $13,970
- Average amount borrowed by associate degree (2-year) completers at private, for profit schools in 2012: $24,684
- Average amount borrowed by bachelor's degree completers at public schools in 2012: $25,640
- Average amount borrowed by bachelor's degree completers at private non-profit schools in 2012: $32,308
- Average amount borrowed by bachelor's degree completers at private for-profit schools in 2012: $40,038
- $1 trillion of the total of $1.2 trillion are subsidized by the U.S. government
Student Loan Lending
- 38.8 million Americans have student loans
- 37 percent of U.S. households have student loan debt
- Depending on the type of 4-year institution (public, private, for-profit) the number of student receiving aid is between 80% and 90%
- Depending on the type of 2-year institution (public, private, for-profit) the number of students receiving aid is between 75% and 90%
- Political and business leaders are calling for a 60 percent rate of college degree attainment in the U.S. by 2025
- Federal student loan rates are keyed to prevailing market rates. In the fourth quarter of 2015, the rate for an undergraduate loan was 4.29 percent, up 26 percent from the 3.4 percent rate of 2012 but much lower than the commercial bank loan rate of 6.8 percent.
- Student loan debt accounts for 6 percent of the total national debt
- The Department of Education $101.8 billion in profits over the past 5 fiscal years
Student Loan Defaults and Payment Plans
- The 2015 federal student loan default rate was 11.7% for students who attended public schools
- The 2015 federal student loan default rate was 6.8% for students who attended private non-profit schools
- The 2015 federal student loan default rate was 15.8% for students who attended for-profit schools
- 80 percent of bankruptcy attorneys have experienced an increase in cases of student loan bankruptcy over the past three years
Wealth & Student Loans
- For households with a head of household under 40, the average net worth (2010) is $8,700, while those with exactly the same salary, but no student debt, have an average net worth of $64,700. Simply put, those without student loans are 7.4 times richer than those with student loans.
- The typical young, college-educated student debtor household has debts equivalent to two years of income. By contrast, the high school graduates have one year's income in debt.
- Those with student debt owe 37 percent more on car loans and 35 percent more on credit cards than those without student loans.
- Among 18-39 year olds who have a two- or four-year college degree and did not borrow money, 84 percent say they are satisfied with their financial condition.
- Among households that borrowed for college, 29 percent are not satisfied with their financial condition and question whether their education has paid off
- The average college grad aged 25-32 makes $17,500 more than those with only a high school diploma and for all ages the average gap is $19,550
- The unemployment rate among those with a bachelor's degree is 3.8 percent, and compared to 12.2 percent for those with only a high school diploma
- The poverty rate among those with a bachelor's degree or more is 5.8 percent, as compared to 21.8 percent for high school graduates
- Student Loan Debt by Age Group (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)
- Trends in Higher Education: Loans (CollegeBoard)
- How Much Student Debt is Out There? (Federal Reserve)
- Financial Aid Data Resources (National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators)
- Economic Snapshot: Student Loan Debt (St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank)
- Student Loans: Overview and Issues (Update) (The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City)
- Federal Student Aid Data Center (Department of Education)