How Many People Have Student Loans?

Letter Grade / Descriptor Numerical Range
A Excellent 90-100
B Good 80-90

Report Highlights. The number of people with student loans outstanding is now 44.7 million, out of whom 42.3 million carry a balance on a federal loan.

  • 79 million American adults have used student loans at some point.
  • 34.3 million have paid off their student loans entirely.
  • Among borrowers with a federal student loan balance, 22.3 million have loans in forbearance while 5.9 million are still in school.
  • A minimum of 15.8 million indebted borrowers have loans from both undergraduate and postgraduate school.

For related research, read our reports on Student Loan Debt Statistics | How Do People Pay For College? | Number of College Graduates | Student Loan Refinancing

line graph of the historical number of indebted federal student loan borrowers from 2007 to 2020

People with Outstanding Student Loans

The number of people with student loan debt has increased by 10.4 million in the last decade.

  • 38.3 million people with student loan debt outstanding owe repayment for an undergraduate education.
  • 17.9 million people with outstanding student debt owe for a postgraduate education.
  • 32.8 million borrowers carry a balance on Stafford loans.
  • 11.6 million indebted borrowers carry a balance on consolidated loans.
  • 1.4 million student borrowers used Grad PLUS loans; 1.8 million used Perkins loans.
  • A minimum of 15.8 million indebted borrowers have loans from both undergraduate and postgraduate school.
  • 6.1 million people with outstanding student loans report they are behind on payments.
  • 34.4 million report their payments are current.
  • Among borrowers with a student loan balance, a minimum of 3.5 million took out loans on behalf of children or grandchildren.

Outstanding Student Loans in 2020

Between the second and third financial quarter of 2020, the CARES Act offered student loan debt relief that affected a minimum of 20 million borrowers.

  • 22.3 million borrowers have loans in forbearance, which is 18.5 million more than there were in the previous financial quarter.
  • 300,000 borrowers have loans currently in repayment, down 17.8 million from the previous quarter.
  • 5.9 million indebted borrowers are currently in school, which is 900,000 fewer than there were in the previous financial quarter.
  • 1.5 million borrowers have loans in a grace period, which is 300,000 more than there were in the previous financial quarter.
  • 3.1 million borrowers have loans in deferment, down 500,000 from the previous quarter.
  • 5.6 million borrowers have loans in default, which is 200,000 fewer than there were the previous quarter.
  • Zero borrowers have loans that are considered delinquent, down 2.1 million from the previous quarter.

bar graph of the number of people who have student loan debt by degree level

Student Loan Debt Across Demographics

Due to privacy and antidiscrimination laws, not all debt-related demographic information is recorded or publicized; the available data is usually expressed in terms of percentages within each particular group.

  • 23 million indebted student borrowers are women; 17.4 million are men.
  • 7.5 million student borrowers under the age of 25.
  • 14.8 million borrowers are between the ages of 25 and 34.
  • 14.1 million indebted borrowers are between the ages of 35 and 49.
  • 6.1 million are aged 50 to 61 years.
  • 2.2 million are ages 62 and older.
  • 389 million federal loan borrowers are undergraduate certificate recipients.
  • 581 million are associate’s degree recipients owe an average of $21,890 each in federal loans.
  • 33.6 million are bachelor’s degree holders.
  • 12.1 million are master’s degree holders.
  • 2.1 million are doctoral degree recipients.
  • 2.2 million are professional degree holders.

Sources

  1. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2019-May 2020
  2. The MeasureOne Private Student Loan Report
  3. United States Census Bureau Data Tables
  4. United States Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid Federal Student Loan Portfolio.
  5. Morning Consult, National Tracking Poll #190963 Crosstabulation Results