Updated: May 1, 2018
It’s 2018 and Americans are more burdened by student loan debt than ever. In fact, the average student loan debt for Class of 2017 graduates was $39,400*, up six percent from the previous year.
You’ve probably heard the other scary statistic: Americans owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44 million borrowers. That’s about $620 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt.
But how does this break down at a more granular level? Are student loans being used to attend public or private universities? Is it mostly from four-year or graduate degrees? What percentage of overall graduates carry debt? Are more grads utilizing private student loan consolidation and refinancing?
Let’s take a look.
(Data provided by Mark Kantrowitz with Private Student Loans Guru)
General student loan debt facts
First, let’s start with a general picture of the student loan debt landscape. The most recent reports indicate there is:
- $1.48 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt
- 44.2 million Americans with student loan debt
- Student loan delinquency rate of 11.2% (90+ days delinquent or in default)
- Average monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $351
- Median monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $203
Public Service Loan Forgiveness statistics
As of Q3, 2017 (latest available data)
PSLF Borrowers: 739,719*
* – Total number of borrowers who have one or more approved PSLF Employment Certification Forms (ECF)
Note that borrowers are self-identified based on submission of an ECF.
Source: FedLoan Servicing via studentaid.ed.gov
Federal student loan portfolio
(updated for Q2, 2017)
Now let’s dive into how much debt student loan borrowers carry by loan type, term, and more.
Student loan debt statistics by loan program:
|Direct Loans||$1,003.3 billion||32.1 million borrowers|
|FFEL Loans||$320.5 billion||15.7 million borrowers|
|Perkins Loans||$7.9 billion||2.6 million borrowers|
|Total (All Federal)||$1,331.7 billion||42.3 million borrowers|
Student loan debt statistics by loan type:
|Stafford Subsidized||$272.5 billion||29.4 million borrowers|
|Stafford Unsubsidized||$449.6 billion||27.9 million borrowers|
|Stafford combined||$722.2 billion||32.6 million unique recipients|
|Grad PLUS||$55.7 billion||1.1 million borrowers|
|Parent PLUS||$81.5 billion||3.4 million borrowers|
|Perkins||$7.9 billion||2.6 million borrowers|
|Consolidation||$464.5 billion||12.0 million borrowers|
Data via Studentaid.ed.gov
Student debt statistics by loan status (Direct Loan Program)
|Loans in repayment||$535.6 billion||16.6 million borrowers|
|Loans in deferment||$112.9 billion||3.6 million borrowers|
|Loans in forbearance||$100.1 billion||2.6 million borrowers|
|Loans in default||$74.9 billion||4.3 million borrowers|
|Loans in grace period||$26.2 billion||1.4 million borrowers|
Student loan statistics by repayment plan (Direct Loan Program)
|Level Repayment Plan(10 years or less)||$199.6 billion||11.15 million borrowers|
|Level Repayment Plan(greater than 10 years)||$74.9 billion||1.68 million borrowers|
|Graduated repayment plan(10 years or less)||$75.4 billion||2.83 million borrowers|
|Graduated repayment plan(greater than 10 years)||$13.6 billion||0.29 million borrowers|
|Income-Contingent (ICR)||$25.5 billion||0.61 million borrowers|
|Income-Based (IBR)||$171.6 billion||3.01 million borrowers|
|Pay As You Earn (PAYE)||$56.1 billion||1.10 million borrowers|
|Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)||$77.0 billion||1.52 million borrowers|
Student loan debt by servicer
(updated for June 30, 2016)
Data Source: National Student Loan Data System
More shocking student loan debt statistics
If those numbers weren’t stunning enough, here’s a closer look at how students accumulate debt based on the type of school they attend.
In 2012, 71 percent of students graduating from four-year colleges had student loan debt:
- Represents 1.3 million students graduating with debt, increase from 1.1 million in 2008
- 66 percent of graduates from public colleges had loans (average debt of $25,550)
- 75 percent of graduates from private nonprofit colleges had loans (average debt of $32,300)
- 88 percent of graduates from for-profit colleges had loans (average debt of $39,950)
Twenty percent of 2012 graduate loans were private
Graduates who received Pell Grants were likely to borrow, and borrow more:
- 88 percent of graduates who received Pell Grants had student loans in 2012, with an average balance of $31,200
- 53 percent of those who didn’t receive a Pell Grant had student loan debt and borrowed $4,750 less ($26,450)
(Data via Ticas.org)
Private student loan debt statistics
- Private student loan debt volume hit $7.8 billion in 2014-15, up from $5.2 billion in 2010-11.
- From 2011-2012, borrowers didn’t take advantage of federal student loans as much as they could have: 19 percent didn’t take out Stafford loans, 8 percent didn’t apply for federal financial aid, 11 percent applied for federal aid but didn’t take out a Stafford loan, 28 percent had Stafford loans but borrowed less than they were eligible for
- In 2011-2012, 48 percent of private loan borrowers attended schools that had tuition costs of $10,000 or less
- Nearly 1.4 million undergraduates borrowed private loans in 2011-2012
(Data via Ticas.org)
Graduate student loan debt
About 40 percent of the $1 trillion student loan debt was used to finance graduate and professional degrees.
Combined undergraduate and graduate debt by degree:
- MBA = $42,000 (11% of graduate degrees)
- Master of Education = $50,879 (16%)
- Master of Science = $50,400 (18%)
- Master of Arts = $58,539 (8%)
- Law = $140,616 (4%)
- Medicine and health sciences = $161,772 (5%)
Clearly, as these student loan debt statistics show, the cost of attending college is becoming a growing burden for a huge portion of Americans.
What are you doing to pay off your debt and ensure you aren’t another statistic? Be sure to let us know how we can help.
(Data via 2012 Newamerica.org study)
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Interested in refinancing your student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Average Savings|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate|