Student Loan Debt vs Other Debts

Last Updated: July 10, 2021 by Melanie Hanson

Report Highlights. Student loan debt makes up the 2nd largest amount of debt in the nation behind mortgages.

  • Student loan debt in America has increased by $165.9 billion since last year.
  • Mortgages in the U.S. have increased by $703 billion since last year.
  • Auto loan debt in America has increased by $80 billion since last year.
  • Credit card debt in the U.S. has fallen by $73 billion since last year.
  • The national student loan debt is $1.44 trillion larger than all the debts consolidated into the other category.

National debt makeup on EducationData

Student Loan Debt vs Mortgage Debt

Student loans account for 11% of total national debt while mortgages account for most of the national debt at 69%. Mortgages dwarf student loans in size on the individual, state, and national scale. The repayment terms of a mortgage are also lengthier than the average student loan.

  • The national student loan debt is $1.71 trillion.
  • Nationally, mortgage represents $10.05 trillion of all debt.
  • The national mortgage is approximately 6.5 times larger than the student loan debt.

Repayment Terms

A significant reason mortgages account for the majority of the national debt is because of the extended length of their repayment period. In a typical fixed-rate mortgage, payments are determined by the loan amount, the loan term, and the interest rate. Student loans are considered on a similar basis.

  • Typical standard repayment plans for federal student loans and private student loans take a total of 10 years to pay off.
  • Mortgages typically come in 15 to 30-year fixed-rate loans.
  • For mortgages, the 30-year option tends to be the most popular.
  • The average student loan debt is $39,351.
  • The average mortgage is $176,700.
  • The average mortgage is nearly 4.5 times larger than the average student loan debt.
  • On average, the terms of a mortgage lasts 27 years.
  • The typical monthly payment of a mortgage is $1,487.
  • The typical monthly payment on a student loan is between $200 and $299.

Repayment length mortgage and student loan e1621546383832 on EducationData

State Comparisons

In the American Housing Survey, the Census Bureau measured the mortgage characteristics of the average U.S. Home. The table below compares a state’s average student loan debt with its average mortgage. Only 12 states had their average mortgage available.

  • California’s average mortgage is $140,900 more than the national average.
  • California’s average mortgage is nearly 9 times larger than its average student loan.
  • Ohio has the lowest average mortgage at $113,500.
  • Texas has the lowest average student loan debt at $32,800.
  • Ohio’s mortgage is nearly 3.5 times larger than Texas’ student loan.
Average Debt by State
State Student Loan Debt Mortgage
California $36,400 $317,600
Colorado $35,800 $237,900
Florida $39,700 $158,800
Illinois $37,600 $154,100
Massachusetts $34,100 $239,800
Michigan $35,900 $121,076
New Jersey $35,100 $241,772
New York $37,800 $180,900
Ohio $34,600 $113,500
Pennsylvania $35,400 $133,900
Texas $32,800 $148,700
Virginia $39,000 $245,054

Student Loan Debt vs Auto Loan Debt

Auto loans make up the 3rd largest form of the national debt, directly behind student loan debts. Auto loans tend to have higher fixed interest rates than federally backed student loans. Because federal student loans offer flexibility and loan forgiveness, it is suggested individuals pay off their auto loans first.

  • Student loans make up $1.71 trillion of the total national debt.
  • Auto loans at $1.37 trillion make up 9% of the national debt.
  • The national student loan debt is $340 billion more than the auto loan debt.

Repayment Terms

Monthly car payments are determined by the individual’s credit score along with other variables. The major difference between auto loans and student loans is in the use of credit scores. Student loans backed by the government do not take credit scores into account.

  • The average auto loan is $19,865.
  • The average student loan debt is $39,351.
  • The average student loan debt is $19,486 larger than the average individual auto loan.
  • The typical monthly payment for a new car is $554.
  • The typical monthly payment for a used car is $391.
  • The typical monthly payment on a student loan is between $200 and $299.

Repayment length auto loan e1621546643154 on EducationData

State Comparisons

The average auto loan increased in all 50 states from 2019 to 2020. Despite the disruption in travel due to Covid-19 the average auto debt still increased over the year. Student loan debt increased in the states from 2019 to 2020 despite the federal suspension on payments.

  • Rhode Island has the lowest average auto loan debt at $15,485.
  • Wyoming has the highest average auto loan debt at $25,522.
  • The District of Columbia’s student loan debt is $37,991 more than its auto loan debt.
Average Debt by State
State Student Loan Debt Auto Loan Debt
Alabama $37,100 $21,655
Alaska $33,500 $23,158
Arizona $34,100 $21,945
Arkansas $33,300 $23,193
California $36,400 $19,713
Colorado $35,800 $20,731
Connecticut $34,900 $16,212
Delaware $37,000 $19,309
District of Columbia $55,400 $17,409
Florida $39,700 $20,110
Georgia $41,500 $21,696
Hawaii $36,500 $19,815
Idaho $32,600 $20,937
Illinois $37,600 $19,036
Indiana $32,800 $18,698
Iowa $30,500 $19,864
Kansas $32,500 $20,181
Kentucky $32,500 $19,336
Louisiana $34,400 $23,733
Maine $32,500 $17,696
Maryland $42,700 $20,195
Massachusetts $34,100 $15,887
Michigan $35,900 $15,638
Minnesota $33,400 $18,049
Mississippi $36,700 $21,915
Missouri $35,400 $19,459
Montana $33,300 $21,135
Nebraska $32,100 $18,951
Nevada $33,600 $21,727
New Hampshire $33,600 $17,654
New Jersey $35,100 $16,286
New Mexico $33,600 $23,772
New York $37,800 $16,483
North Carolina $37,500 $20,121
North Dakota $29,200 $21,834
Ohio $34,600 $17,409
Oklahoma $31,500 $23,302
Oregon $36,900 $19,096
Pennsylvania $35,400 $17,600
Rhode Island $31,800 $15,485
South Carolina $38,300 $19,996
South Dakota $31,100 $19,890
Tennessee $36,200 $21,077
Texas $32,800 $24,821
Utah $32,200 $20,346
Vermont $36,700 $17,879
Virginia $39,000 $20,013
Washington $35,000 $20,649
West Virginia $31,800 $22,553
Wisconsin $31,800 $17,661
Wyoming $31,000 $25,522

Student Loan Debt vs Credit Card Debt

The overall national credit card debt dropped in 2020. In contrast, student loan debt rose in the same year. The average student loan debt may be much higher, yet the monthly payments for both debts are nearly the same.

  • Student loans make up $1.71 trillion of the total national debt.
  • Credit Card debt at $820 billion makes up 5% of the national debt.
  • The national student loan debt is $890 billion more than the credit card debt.

Repayment Terms

Experts suggest paying off credit card debt first because of the higher interest rate on credit cards. Credit card debts do not offer repayment plans based on income, ability to pay, financial payments, or deferred payments, unlike student loans.

  • The average credit card debt per household is $5,315.
  • The average student loan debt is $39,351.
  • The average student loan is nearly 7.5 times larger than the average credit card debt.
  • Credit cards can often carry an interest rate of over 20%.
  • Federal student loans usually have an interest rate below 10%.
  • The typical monthly payment on a student loan is between $200 and $299.
  • Payment on average for the monthly credit card bill is $244.

Repayment length credit cards e1621546819798 on EducationData

State Comparisons

The states with the highest average credit card debt in 2019 saw the greatest decreases in 2020. In contrast, average student loan debts increased across all 50 states.

  • While not a state, Washington D.C. saw credit debt shrink by 20% in the past year.
  • In Washington D.C., student loan debt is $49,729 more than credit card debt.
  • Alaska had the highest increase in student loan debt at 14%.
  • Alaska has the highest average credit card debt at $6,617.
  • Iowa has the lowest average credit card debt at $4,289.
Average Debt by State
State Student Loan Debt Credit Card Debt
Alabama $37,100 $5,047
Alaska $33,500 $6,617
Arizona $34,100 $5,157
Arkansas $33,300 $4,791
California $36,400 $5,120
Colorado $35,800 $5,541
Connecticut $34,900 $6,040
Delaware $37,000 $5,462
District of Columbia $55,400 $5,671
Florida $39,700 $5,623
Georgia $41,500 $5,693
Hawaii $36,500 $5,614
Idaho $32,600 $4,582
Illinois $37,600 $5,365
Indiana $32,800 $4,651
Iowa $30,500 $4,289
Kansas $32,500 $5,063
Kentucky $32,500 $4,521
Louisiana $34,400 $5,127
Maine $32,500 $4,676
Maryland $42,700 $5,977
Massachusetts $34,100 $5,141
Michigan $35,900 $4,692
Minnesota $33,400 $4,767
Mississippi $36,700 $4,587
Missouri $35,400 $4,950
Montana $33,300 $4,785
Nebraska $32,100 $4,819
Nevada $33,600 $5,422
New Hampshire $33,600 $5,327
New Jersey $35,100 $5,978
New Mexico $33,600 $4,948
New York $37,800 $5,414
North Carolina $37,500 $5,121
North Dakota $29,200 $4,865
Ohio $34,600 $4,888
Oklahoma $31,500 $5,271
Oregon $36,900 $4,681
Pennsylvania $35,400 $5,090
Rhode Island $31,800 $5,256
South Carolina $38,300 $5,310
South Dakota $31,100 $4,633
Tennessee $36,200 $5,006
Texas $32,800 $5,848
Utah $32,200 $4,900
Vermont $36,700 $4,653
Virginia $39,000 $5,992
Washington $35,000 $5,238
West Virginia $31,800 $4,686
Wisconsin $31,800 $4,376
Wyoming $31,000 $5,182

Student Loan Debt vs Other Assorted Debts

The remaining 6% of the national debt is made up of a compilation of sources. There is some overlap in these debts with other debts. For example, an individual may pay off their medical debt using a credit card.

  • The median amount of medical debt from 2017 was $2,000.
  • Revolving debts are roughly $1 trillion of the national debt.
  • If all U.S. citizens had revolving debt, it would be $3,299 per person.

Sources

  1. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Center for Microeconomic Data: Household Debt and Credit Report
  2. The Federal Reserve (The Fed): Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2019 – May 2020
  3. Debt.org: Key Figures Behind America’s Consumer Debt
  4. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (cfpb): How long does it take to pay off a student loan?
  5. Educationdata.org: Student Loan Debt by State
  6. United States Census Bureau, Who Had Medical Debt in the United States?: 19% of U.S. Households Could Not Afford to Pay for Medical Care Right Away
  7. Experian: U.S. Auto Debt Grows to Record High Despite Pandemic
  8. Northwestern University, Financial Wellness: Credit Cards vs. Student Loans