Average Student Loan Debt

Report Highlights. The average student loan debt, currently $37,574, did not grow as much in value in 2021 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 $37,574 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; 92% of them have federal loan debt.
  • 20 years after entering school, half of the 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

Average student loan debt on Education Data Initiative

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 2021, the average student loan debt increased by 2.7%.
  • Since Fall 2020, the average federal student loan debt rose 5.8% from $36,520.
  • During that same period, the average private student loan debt decreased by 14.58% largely due to Wells Fargo’s departure from the student loan market. 
  • The median monthly payment among student loan holders is $250.
  • University graduates owe an average of $33,500 a year after they leave school.
  • The average private nonprofit university student borrows $33,700 to complete a bachelor’s degree.
  • For-profit students borrow $49,700.
  • 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 2021, Alaska saw the greatest increase in the average federal student loan debt per borrower, an additional $1,269 each.
  • Delaware’s debt increase, 23% lower than Alaska’s, was the second-largest with an additional $1,101 per borrower.
  • Wyoming’s student loan borrowers diminished their average debt by $793 each, the largest nationwide decrease.
  • In Vermont, student loan debt declined by $622 per person, or 22% as much as Wyoming’s.
  • Iowa and New Hampshire remained virtually the same, declining by $9 and $13 per borrower, respectively.
Average Federal Student Loan Debt by State
State Average Debt Change Sep 2021-Sept 2022
Alabama $37,508 +$365
Alaska $35,242 +$1,269
Arizona $35,525 +$97
Arkansas $33,830 +$411
California $37,162 +$346
Colorado $37,103 +$243
Connecticut $35,588 +$334
Delaware $38,373 +$1,101
District of Columbia $54,668 -$557
Florida $38,931 +$349
Georgia $41,951 +$320
Hawaii $37,097 +$302
Idaho $32,972 +$20
Illinois $38,198 +$369
Iowa $30,580 -$9
Kansas $32,922 +$169
Kentucky $33,097 +$253
Louisiana $34,827 +$233
Maine $33,684 +$476
Maryland $43,345 +$376
Massachusetts $34,778 +$380
Michigan $36,510 +$259
Minnesota $33,852 +$210
Mississippi $37,396 +$410
Missouri $35,634 +$146
Montana $34,056 +$854
Nebraska $32,156 -$89
Nevada $34,135 +$179
New Hampshire $34,161 -$13
New Jersey $36,172 +$587
New Mexico $34,378 +$122
New York $38,139 +$203
North Carolina $38,134 +$411
North Dakota $29,083 +$479
Ohio $34,916 +$151
Oklahoma $32,031 +$382
Oregon $37,611 +$293
Pennsylvania $35,695 +$161
Puerto Rico $29,421 +$1,372
Rhode Island $32,369 -$48
South Carolina $38,682 +$141
South Dakota $31,014 +$113
Tennessee $36,730 +$235
Texas $33,301 +$293
Utah $33,110 +$297
Vermont $36,943 -$622
Virginia $39,561 +$256
Washington $36,060 +$400
West Virginia $32,174 +$58
Wisconsin $32,289 +$275
Wyoming $30,631 -$793
Other $46,908 +$1,115

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

Average Student Loan Debt by Year

  • The average student loan debt has tripled since 2007.
  • The average overall student debt has increased by 106% or 6.6% each year over 16 years.
  • The Stafford Loan balance increased 8% while the Grad PLUS loan balance increased 17% over 9 years.
  • The average federal student loan debt increased by 1.5% over the last year.
  • The average private student loan debt decreased by 15% over the last year.
Average Federal Student Loan Debt by Year
Year Total Loans Stafford Loans
2007 18,233 N/A
2008 19,297 N/A
2009 20,467 N/A
2010 21,860 N/A
2011 23,238 N/A
2012 24,757 N/A
2013 26,267 N/A
2014 27,759 20,054
2015 29,144 19,902
2016 30,548 20,676
2017 32,086 20,818
2018 33,547 20,863
2019 35,205 20,829
2020 36,510 21,520
2021 37,112 21,639
2022 37,574 21,663

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

Average Student Loan Debt by Age

  • Those aged between 50 to 61 have the highest average student loan debt at $45,139.
  • 6.38% of federal student loan debt belongs to adults under the age of 25.
  • Adults aged 25 to 34 years old hold 30.4% of the federal student loan debt; 38.7% belongs to 35- to 49-year-olds.
  • 24.5% of federal student loan debt is from borrowers aged 50 years and older.
  • In 2005, students under the age of 30 took out $147 billion in loan originations ($258 billion after adjusting for inflation).
  • In 2018, students under the age of 30 took out $124 billion ($148 billion after inflation).
  • In 13 years, the value of student loan originations among borrowers under 30 years old declined by 42.6%.

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

Average Student Loan Debt by Race or Ethnicity

Note: this report uses categories and terminology that conform to the 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 $27,260 and is the highest among all racial groups.
  • The average white student owes $21,578.
  • Among part-time or part-year undergraduates, Asian students borrow the most at $10,698 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” interchangeably.

  • 64% 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 $33,448.
  • Borrowers who hold master’s degrees owe an average of $80,494 each.
  • The average law school debt exceeds $180,000.
  • 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 $82,819 $67,376
Master’s $91,785 $71,361
Master of Arts $89,046 $65,881
Master of Business Administration $81,075 $62,394
Master of Education $67,500 $52,057
Master of Science $76,218 $59,779
Doctorate, Research $136,869 $126,656
Doctorate, Professional $228,156 $213,834
Doctor of Education $136,869 $126,656
Medical Degree $300,887 $277,847
Law Degree $177,967 $161,029

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 $28,160.
  • The average student who attended a private, nonprofit institution owes $40,750.
  • Students who attended proprietary or for-profit private institutions owe an average of $22,315.
  • Students of foreign institutions owe an average of $105,500.
  • A little over 10 million borrowers who attended other types of institutions owe an average of $4,838 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 $25,249.
  • Subsidized Stafford loans carry an average balance of $9,745.
  • Unsubsidized Stafford loans have an average balance of $18,993.
  • The average Grad PLUS loan has an outstanding balance of $57,588.
  • Parent PLUS loans average $29,324.
  • Consolidated federal loans have an average remaining balance of $50,514.
  • Though discontinued in 2017, a number of Perkins loans carry an outstanding balance, averaging $3,000 per loan.
  • 45% of federal borrowers owe less than $20,000 in student loan debt.
  • 10% 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
  7. Survey: Student Loans and the LGBTQ Community | LendingTree
  8. Lending by Borrower Age | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  9. One Year After a Bachelor’s Degree: A Profile of 2015–16 Graduates
  10. How Black Women Experience Student Debt – The Education Trust
  11. AAUW Report: Deeper in Debt
  12. NCES Table 332.45: Percentage of Graduate Degree Completers with Student Loan Debt