Student Loans Facts & Statistics
More than 1 out of every 3 young adults has student loan debt. Today's college graduates are facing, on average, $29,800 in student loans. That number has tripled since 2006, and the growth shows no sign of slowing.
There's good news if the use of student loans lead to graduation and subsequent rewards. In fact, numerous studies have confirmed that the average college grad makes substantially more than a counterpart with only a high school diploma. Also, the unemployment rate among those with a bachelor's degree has always been distinctly lower than among those without.
This page contains student loan statistics gathered by the MoneyGeek 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 contact us (see social media buttons below).
Student Loan Amounts
- In 2015, total student loan debt is $1.5 trillion, which is second only to mortgages
- The number of student loan borrowers has jumped to 45 million
- Over the last 13 years, total educational debt has more than tripled
- 65 percent of seniors who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2018 had student loan debt, with an average of $29,200 per borrower
- Average amount borrowed by bachelor's degree completers at public schools in 2017: $26,900
- Average amount borrowed by bachelor's degree completers at private non-profit schools in 2017: $32,600
- Average amount borrowed by bachelor's degree completers at private for-profit schools in 2017: $39,900
- $1 trillion of the total of $1.2 trillion are subsidized by the U.S. government
Student Loan Lending
- Over 30 percent of American adults have student loan debt
- Depending on the type of 4-year institution (public, private, for-profit) the number of student receiving aid is generally between 80% and 95%
- Depending on the type of 2-year institution (public, private, for-profit) the number of students receiving aid is generally between 75% and 95%
- Politicians - namely those on the front line for the Democrats - are calling for wide-sweeping elimination of 75 to 95 percent of all student debt
- For federal loans dispersed on or after July 1, 2021, and before July 1, 2022, interest rates are as follows: 3.73% for undergraduate loans, 5.28% for graduate direct unsubsidized loans and 6.28% for direct PLUS loans
Student Loan Defaults and Payment Plans
- The federal student loan default rate was 9.6% for students who attended public schools (at last count - 2016)
- The federal student loan default rate was 6.6% for students who attended private non-profit schools
- The federal student loan default rate was 15.2% for students who attended for-profit schools
Wealth & Student Loans
- American households have an average net worth (2019) of $692,100 and a median net worth of $97,300. The average millennial, however, has a net worth of only $8,000
- In fact, student debt reduces millennials' net worth by some 75%.
- More than half of millennials consider themselves to be somewhat unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with their financial condition.
- 16 percent of young adults consider repaying student debt to be their biggest financial hurdle.
- Of millennial college grads, 35% don't use a credit card and around 36% don't know their credit score.
- The unemployment rate among those with a bachelor's degree is 2.1 percent, compared to 3.9 percent for those with only a high school diploma
- The poverty rate among those with a bachelor's degree or more is 4.4 percent, as compared to 12.7 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)
About the Author
- FederalStudentAid. "Understand how interest is calculated and what fees are associated with your federal student loan.." Accessed October 22, 2021.