Student Loan Debt Statistics – Updated for 2020

Student loan debt in 2020 is now $1.56 trillion in the United States, with borrowers on average owing $37,172 in debt. Graduates of the most recent class of students leave college with $29,200 in student loans. Student loan debt is the second largest class of consumer debt, behind mortgage debt.

For millions of Americans, higher education represents a path to financial prosperity and opportunity. While a college education is expensive, it’s also a prerequisite to many of the highest paying positions across virtually every industry. 

Student loans and other financing options are as old as higher learning institutions themselves. But, in recent years, Americans have been trading their financial independence for a college education in increasingly higher numbers. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at some interesting student loan debt statistics to shine a light on the state of student borrowing in 2020.

Student Loan Debt Statistics

Entering 2020, student loan debt rose to a record of 1.56 trillion dollars. [1]

Forty-five million Americans currently have student loan debt. [1]

The average monthly student loan payment is $393. [1]

Student loan debt has grown by more than 113% from 2009 to 2019. [2]

Student loan debt accumulates at a rate of $2.858 per second. [3]

As of 2017, the average student loan debt per student was $37,172. [3]

Since 1980, the cost of public college has grown by 344%. The cost of attending a private college has grown by 241%. [3]

70% of college graduates have student loan debt after graduation. [3]

More than 13% of American consumers have at least one outstanding student loan. [4]

Student loan debt among Americans 60 or older has quadrupled since 2005. [5]

73% of Americans 60 or older are taking on student loan debt on behalf of their children or grandchildren. [5]

The percentage of student loan delinquency in Americans 60 or older has increased from 7.4% to 12.5% from 2005 to 2012. [5]

37% of borrowers 60 or older are in default on their student loans. [5]

10.7% of student loan debt is 90+ days delinquent or in default as of the first quarter of 2018. [6]

At $39,802, Generation X outpaces every other generation for their average student loan debt. [2]

Financial planners recommend keeping your student loan payments at or below 8% of your gross income after graduation. [2]

Class of 2016 graduates from New Hampshire had the most student loan debt with an average of $36,367. [7]

Students from Utah had the lowest average student debt after graduation, at $19.975. [7] 

Students from Utah are the least likely to graduate with student loan debt, with only 43% of 2016 graduates owing student loans. [7]

West Virginia leads all states in students who take on student loans. 77% of students from West Virginia graduated from college in 2016 with student loans. [7]

In 2017, rates for private student loans were as high as 14.24% compared to the federal rate of 4.45%. [7]

19% of student loan borrowers currently owe more than $50,000 on their loans. [8]

14.4% of Americans currently have a student loan. [9]

Washington, D.C. has the highest average student loan debt at $55,882 per person. [9]

Common Questions and Answers

What percentage of students graduate with student loan debt?

Among the most recent graduating class – 2019 – 69% of students had taken out a student loan. Additionally, 14% of parents took on a federal parent PLUS loan.

How much debt does the average student graduate with?

The average amount of student loan debt taken on by the class of 2019 was $29,900.

What is the size student loans in the United States?

The amount of student loan debt in the US is shockingly large and has exceeded even credit card debt as of 2012. Here are a few stats on the size of student loan debt:

– 44.7 million Americans have student loan debt
– 69% of graduates have at least one student loan
– There is $1.64 trillion in student debt outstanding