Average Student Loan Debt

Report Highlights.The average student loan debt, currently $37,693, did not grow as much in value 2020 as it has in previous years. Private student loan debt grew at a much faster rate than federal debt.

  • The average federal student loan debt is $36,510 per borrower.
  • Private student loan debt averages $54,921 per borrower.
  • The average student borrows over $30,000 to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
  • A total of 45.3 million borrowers have student loan debt; 95% of them have federal loan debt.
  • 20 years after entering school, half of student borrowers still owe $20,000 each on outstanding loan balances.

Related reports include Total Student Loan Debt | Student Loan Debt by State | Student Loan Debt by Year | Student Loan Refinancing

Line Graph: Historic Average Federal Student Loan Debt

Average Student Loan Debt

The average student loan debt grew, as the total debt grew and indebted borrower numbers stayed roughly the same.

  • Since Spring 2020, the average student loan debt increased by 1.6%.
  • Since Fall 2019, the average federal student loan debt rose 4.0% from $35,097.
  • During that same period, the average private student loan debt rose 12.66% from $48,750.
  • The median monthly payment among student loan holders is $250.
  • University graduates owe an average of $36,140 the day they leave school.
  • The average private nonprofit university student borrows $33,900 to complete a bachelor’s degree.
  • For-profit students borrow $43,900.
  • All postsecondary students, including those earning certificates and associate’s degrees, borrow at least $15,000 to pay for classes.

Average Student Loan Debt by State

  • In 2020’s third financial quarter, Colorado saw the greatest increase in the average federal student loan debt per borrower, an additional $853 each.
  • Vermont’s debt increase, 29.8% lower than Colorado’s, was the second-largest with an additional $599 per borrower.
  • Florida’s student loan borrowers diminished their average debt by $1,580 each, the largest nationwide decrease.
  • In North Dakota, student loan debt declined by $830 per person or just under half (47.5%) as much as Florida’s.
  • New Mexico and Massachusetts remained virtually the same, declining by $4 and $5 per borrower, respectively.
Average Federal Student Loan Debt by State
State Average Debt Change Jun-Sept 2020
Alabama $36,826 -$267
Alaska $33,083 -$454
Arizona $35,047 -$72
Arkansas $33,113 -$140
California $36,351 -$43
Colorado $36,610 +$853
Connecticut $34,677 -$241
Delaware $37,221 +$246
District of Columbia $54,983 -$381
Florida $38,160 -$1,580
Georgia $41,256 -$280
Hawaii $35,803 -$730
Idaho $32,425 -$250
Illinois $37,460 -$160
Iowa $30,381 -$95
Kansas $32,352 -$168
Kentucky $32,622 +$77
Louisiana $34,165 -$144
Maine $32,543 -$5
Maryland $42,592 -$78
Massachusetts $34,075 -$9
Michigan $35,819 -$66
Minnesota $33,252 -$147
Mississippi $36,508 -$185
Missouri $35,260 -$139
Montana $32,626 -$707
Nebraska $31,726 -$382
Nevada $33,573 -$15
New Hampshire $33,459 -$131
New Jersey $35,095 -$51
New Mexico $33,632 -$4
New York $37,639 -$129
North Carolina $37,217 -$299
North Dakota $28,402 -$830
Ohio $34,496 -$114
Oklahoma $31,376 -$124
Oregon $36,988 +$71
Pennsylvania $35,205 -$174
Puerto Rico $26,918 +$461
Rhode Island $31,954 +$172
South Carolina $38,063 -$231
South Dakota $30,946 -$104
Tennessee $36,035 -$133
Texas $32,671 -$157
Utah $32,150 -$64
Vermont $37,284 +$599
Virginia $38,903 -$140
Washington $35,117 +$115
West Virginia $31,532 -$251
Wisconsin $31,766 -$55
Wyoming $30,476 -$532
Other or Unreported Residency $24,466 Unavailable

Find more detailed research in our report on theAverage Student Loan Debt by State.

Average Student Loan Debt by Year

  • The average student loan debt has doubled since 2007.
  • The average undergraduate’s student loan debt alone increased 140% or 10% each year.
  • The average undergraduate debt increases 40% faster than the overall average student loan debt.
  • The average federal student loan debt increased 3.7% over the last year.
  • The average private student loan debt increased 13% over the last year.
Average Federal Student Loan Debt by Year
Year Undergraduate Only All Student Debt
2020 $36,635 $36,510
2019 $35,402 $35,205
2018 $33,635 $33,548
2017 $31,924 $32,087
2016 $30,133 $30,548
2015 $28,117 $29,144
2014 $26,043 $27,759
2013 $23,793 $26,268
2012 $21,417 $24,757
2011 $18,046 $23,238
2010 $15,590 $21,860
2009 $16,837 $20,467
2008 $15,909 $19,298
2007 $15,257 $18,233

Find more detailed research in our report on the Average Student Loan Debt by Year.

Average Student Loan Debt by Age

  • 35-year-olds have the highest average student loan debt at $42,600.
  • 7.38% of federal student loan debt belongs to adults under the age of 25.
  • Adults aged 25 to 34 years old hold 32% of the federal student loan debt; 38.4% belongs to 35- to 49-year-olds.
  • 22.2% of federal student loan debt is from borrowers aged 50 years and older.
  • In 2005, students under the age of 30 took out $76.3 billion in loan originations ($98.4 billion after adjusting for inflation).
  • In 2019, students under the age of 30 took out $47.1 billion ($48.1 billion after inflation).
  • In 14 years, the value of student loan originations among borrowers under 30 years old declined 51.1%.

Find more detailed research in our report on the Average Student Loan Debt by Age.

Average Student Loan Debt by Race or Ethnicity

Note: this report uses categories and terminology that conforms to data source material.

  • Among Black women, the average student loan debt balance grows 13% over 12 years.
  • Among black men, the average debt balance grows 11% over 12 years.
  • The average federal student loan debt among Black and African American borrowers is $57,770.
  • The average white student owes $30,520.
  • Pacific Islander students borrow the most for postsecondary education, with each first-year, full-time student borrowing $13,262.
  • Among part-time or part-year undergraduates, Asian students borrow the most at $9,223 each.

Find more detailed research in our report on Student Loan Debt by Race

Average Student Loan Debt by Sex or Gender

Note: submissions from students who identify as transgender or select “a different gender identity” on surveys are too few in number to derive any meaningful data. Some sources use the terms “sex” and “gender” interchangably.

  • 58% of student loan debt belongs to women; Black women have the highest average amount of debt.
  • Student borrowers who identify as LGBTQ average an additional $16,000 in outstanding debt than students who do not.
  • In surveys, indebted student borrowers who selected multiple genders had the highest outstanding debt rates.
  • Male borrowers are the least likely to have high amounts of student loan debt.
  • Female borrowers are more likely than male borrowers to have student loan debt from graduate school.

Find more detailed research in our report on Student Loan Debt by Sex or Gender

Average Student Loan Debt by Educational Attainment Level

  • Federal student loan borrowers pursuing undergraduate postsecondary education owe an average of $36,510.
  • Borrowers who hold master’s degrees owe an average of $71,318 each.
  • The average law school debt exceeds $100,000.
  • The average medical school debt is in excess of $200,000.
Average Student Loan Debt Among Graduate Degree Holders
Degree Total Student Loan Debt Graduate Debt Only
Postbaccalaureate Certificate $73,277 $59,558
Master’s $71,318 $55,376
Master of Arts $78,693 $58,273
Master of Business Administration $71,665 $55,223
Master of Education $59,660 $45,982
Master of Science $67,391 $52,805
Doctorate, research $117,198 $111,751
Doctorate, professional $201,736 $189,037
Doctor of Education $121,003 $112,016
Medical Degree $265,996 $245,616
Law Degree $157,315 $142,372

See our report on Educational Attainment Statistics to find additional related data.

Average Student Loan Debt by Institution Type

  • Students who used their federal loans to attend public institutions owe an average of $26,382.
  • The average student who attended a private, nonprofit institution owes $37,971.
  • Students who attended proprietary or for-profit private institutions owe an average of $21,244.
  • Students of foreign institutions owe an average of $90,500.
  • A little over 10 million borrowers who attended other types of institutions owe an average of $10,304 each in student loan debt.

Average Federal Loan Debt

Some borrowers have multiple federal loans. Presumably, many federal loan holders also have private student loan debt.

  • 48.9% of students who borrow money to attend school are still paying off loans 20 years later.
  • The average Stafford loan holder owes $24,716.
  • Subsidized Stafford loans carry an average balance of $9,652.
  • Unsubsidized Stafford loans have an average balance of $18,486.
  • The average Grad PLUS loan has an outstanding balance of $55,200.
  • Parent PLUS loans average $28,000.
  • Consolidated federal loans have an average remaining balance of $48,009.
  • Though discontinued in 2017, a number of Perkins loans carry an outstanding balance, averaging $3,059 per loan.
  • 53.8% of federal borrowers owe less than $20,000 in student loan debt.
  • 7.03% of borrowers owe more than $100,000.
  • The federal government forgives student loans at a rate of $95.45 per indebted student borrower.

Sources

  1. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2019 – May 2020
  2. The MeasureOne Private Student Loan Report 2020
  3. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Federal Student Aid, Federal Student Loan Portfolio
  4. Congressional Budget Office, The Volume and Repayment of Federal Student Loans 1995 to 2017
  5. National Public Radio, Myth Busted: Turns Out Bankruptcy Can Wipe Out Student Loan Debt After All
  6. National Consumer Law Center, Student Loan Borrower Assistance: Lawsuits