Student Loan Debt vs Other Debts

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

  • Student loan debt in America has fallen by $10 billion since last year.
  • Mortgages in the U.S. have increased by $1 trillion since last year.
  • Auto loan debt in America has increased by $80 billion since last year.
  • Credit card debt in the U.S. has increased by $120 billion since last year.

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Student Loan Debt vs Mortgage Debt

Student loans account for 9.5% of the total national debt while mortgages account for most of the national debt at 71%. 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 $1.57 trillion.
  • Nationally, mortgages represent $11.67 trillion of all debt.
  • The national mortgage is approximately 7.4 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 $37,790.
  • The average mortgage is $381,600.
  • The average mortgage is nearly 6.1 times larger than the average student loan debt.
  • On average, the terms of a mortgage last 27 years.
  • The typical monthly payment of a mortgage is $1,672.
  • The typical monthly payment on a student loan is between $200 and $299.

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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 $149,300 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.
  • North Dakota has the lowest average student loan debt at $28,604.
  • Ohio’s average mortgage is nearly 4 times larger than South Dakota’s average student loan.
Average Debt by State
State Student Loan Debt Mortgage
California $37,084 $381,600
Colorado $36,822 $237,900
Florida $38,459 $223,100
Illinois $37,757 $200,100
Massachusetts $34,146 $320,800
Michigan $36,116 $121,076
New Jersey $35,434 $241,772
New York $37,678 $279,500
Ohio $34,721 $113,500
Pennsylvania $35,385 $133,900
Texas $32,920 $220,200
Virginia $39,165 $252,800

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 $1.57 trillion of the total national debt.
  • Auto loans at $1.52 trillion make up 9% of the national debt.
  • The national student loan debt is $50 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 $20,987.
  • The average student loan debt is $37,790.
  • The average student loan debt is $16,803 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.

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State Comparisons

The average auto loan increased in all 50 states from 2020 to 2021. Despite the disruption in travel due to Covid-19 the average auto debt still increased over the year. Student loan debt decreased for the first time in 2022 after the suspension of interest on federal student loans.

  • Rhode Island has the lowest average auto loan debt at $16,465.
  • Wyoming has the highest average auto loan debt at $26,511.
  • The District of Columbia’s student loan debt is $36,503 more than its auto loan debt.
Average Debt by State
State Student Loan Debt Auto Loan Debt
Alabama $37,137 $22,769
Alaska $34,024 $24,325
Arizona $33,333 $23,245
Arkansas $33,300 $24,311
California $37,084 $21,027
Colorado $36,822 $21,593
Connecticut $35,162 $17,115
Delaware $37,559 $20,374
District of Columbia $54,945 $18,442
Florida $38,459 $21,341
Georgia $41,639 $22,958
Hawaii $36,765 $21,024
Idaho $33,012 $22,353
Illinois $37,757 $20,099
Indiana $32,874 $19,769
Iowa $30,848 $20,882
Kansas $32,578 $21,306
Kentucky $32,779 $20,554
Louisiana $34,525 $24,826
Maine $33,137 $18,824
Maryland $42,861 $21,228
Massachusetts $34,146 $16,864
Michigan $36,116 $16,560
Minnesota $33,604 $19,021
Mississippi $36,902 $23,121
Missouri $35,397 $20,473
Montana $33,149 $22,272
Nebraska $31,919 $20,102
Nevada $33,743 $22,876
New Hampshire $34,085 $18,610
New Jersey $35,434 $17,309
New Mexico $34,211 $24,837
New York $37,678 $17,498
North Carolina $37,721 $21,170
North Dakota $28,604 $22,622
Ohio $34,721 $18,411
Oklahoma $31,525 $24,317
Oregon $37,017 $20,171
Pennsylvania $35,385 $18,641
Rhode Island $32,056 $16,465
South Carolina $38,414 $21,005
South Dakota $30,954 $20,939
Tennessee $36,418 $22,307
Texas $32,920 $25,925
Utah $32,835 $21,560
Vermont $37,516 $18,708
Virginia $39,165 $21,035
Washington $35,510 $21,922
West Virginia $31,690 $23,465
Wisconsin $31,894 $18,670
Wyoming $31,250 $26,511

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 $1.57 trillion of the total national debt.
  • Credit Card Debt at $930 billion makes up nearly 6% of the national debt.
  • The national student loan debt is $640 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 $8,942.
  • The average student loan debt is $37,790.
  • The average student loan is nearly 4.2 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.

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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 Georgia, student loan debt is $35,946 more than credit card debt.
  • Alaska had the highest increase in student loan debt at 7%.
  • Alaska has the highest average credit card debt at $11,277.
  • Iowa has the lowest average credit card debt at $6,458.
Average Debt by State
State Student Loan Debt Household Credit Card Debt
Alabama $37,137 $7,791
Alaska $34,024 $11,277
Arizona $33,333 $7,906
Arkansas $33,300 $7,214
California $37,084 $8,505
Colorado $36,822 $8,906
Connecticut $35,162 $9,088
Delaware $37,559 $8,360
District of Columbia $54,945 N/A
Florida $38,459 $8,510
Georgia $41,639 $5,693
Hawaii $36,765 $10,190
Idaho $33,012 $7,442
Illinois $37,757 $7,874
Indiana $32,874 $6,932
Iowa $30,848 $6,458
Kansas $32,578 $7,553
Kentucky $32,779 $6,994
Louisiana $34,525 $8,003
Maine $33,137 $7,091
Maryland $42,861 $9,120
Massachusetts $34,146 $8,116
Michigan $36,116 $7,134
Minnesota $33,604 $7,215
Mississippi $36,902 $7,297
Missouri $35,397 $7,402
Montana $33,149 $7,614
Nebraska $31,919 $6,956
Nevada $33,743 $7,909
New Hampshire $34,085 $8,427
New Jersey $35,434 $8,427
New Mexico $34,211 $7,521
New York $37,678 $8,214
North Carolina $37,721 $7,752
North Dakota $28,604 $7,080
Ohio $34,721 $7,192
Oklahoma $31,525 $8,136
Oregon $37,017 $7,477
Pennsylvania $35,385 $7,690
Rhode Island $32,056 $7,690
South Carolina $38,414 $8,221
South Dakota $30,954 $7,152
Tennessee $36,418 $7,677
Texas $32,920 $8,681
Utah $32,835 $8,527
Vermont $37,516 $7,351
Virginia $39,165 $9,176
Washington $35,510 $8,085
West Virginia $31,690 $7,207
Wisconsin $31,894 $6,553
Wyoming $31,250 $7,975

Student Loan Debt vs Other Assorted Debts

The remaining 3% 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 total medical debt in the United States is estimated to be at least $195 billion.
  • Revolving debts are roughly $320 billion of the national debt.
  • If all U.S. citizens had revolving debt, it would be $964 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
  9. United States Census: American Housing Survey
  10. Peterson-KFF: The Burden of Medical Debt in the United States
  11. WalletHub: Credit Card Debt by State
  12. Experian: State of the Auto Finance Market 2022
  13. LendingTree: Average Monthly Debt Payments Throughout the US
  14. Federal Student Loan Portfolio