The latest student loan debt statistics show that student loan debt totals $1.75 trillion as of April 2022.
Higher education represents a path to financial prosperity and opportunity for millions of Americans. But, due to rising college costs, many students find it necessary to finance higher education with student loans. Unfortunately, some borrowers find it difficult to pay back their hefty debt upon graduation.
The cost of college has steadily increased over the last 30 years. In that timeframe, tuition costs at public four-year colleges grew from $4,160 to $10,740 and from $19,360 to $38,070 at private nonprofit institutions (adjusted for inflation). As costs have risen, so has the need for student loans and other financial aid forms.
When considering your options, it helps to look at the big picture and understand the full impact and scope of student loans. This is a snapshot of student loan debt in the United States in 2022.
Average Student Loan Debt
- $1.75 trillion in total student loan debt (including federal and private loans)
- $28,950 owed per borrower on average
- About 92% of all student debt are federal student loans; the remaining amount is private student loans
- 55% of students from public four-year institutions had student loans
- 57% of students from private nonprofit four-year institutions took on education debt
Here’s how that debt breaks down by loan type.
|Loan type||Amount owed||Number of borrowers|
|34 million, combined|
|Grad PLUS||$91 billion||1.6 million|
|Parent PLUS||$105 billion||3.7 million|
|Perkins||$4 billion||1.5 million|
|Consolidation||$555 billion||11.3 million|
Federal Student Loan Portfolio
Federal student loans make up the vast majority of American education debt—about 92% of all outstanding student loans are federal debt. The federal student loan portfolio currently totals more than $1.6 trillion, owed by about 43 million borrowers
Federal Student Loans by Age
Unsurprisingly; younger people hold the majority of student loan debt. Borrowers between the ages of 25 and 34 carry about $500 billion in federal student loans—the majority of people in this age group owe between $10,000 and $40,000.
However, people carry their education debt well into middle age and beyond. Borrowers ages 35 to 49 owe more than $620 billion in student loans. This cohort has the highest number of borrowers who owe more than $100,000 in loans.
Even retirees feel the pressure from student loans; 2.4 million borrowers aged 62 or older owe $98 billion in student loans.
Student Loan Repayment Statistics
Here are the current repayment statuses of the federal Direct Loan program.
Individual student loan debt statistics
Here’s how student loan debt in the U.S. impacts individual borrowers:
- The age group with the most student loan borrowers is the 25 to 34 age bracket, while 7.4 million borrowers are 24 years old or younger.
- In the class of 2020, 55 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with student loan debt.
- In 19 states, the average student loan debt was over $30,000 for the class of 2020, and it was over $35,000 in six states.
- As of March 2021, 54 percent of borrowers owed less than $20,000 in student loans, and 10 percent owed $80,000 or more.
- The average estimated budget for undergraduates for the 2021-22 school year was $18,830 for public two-year in-district students, $27,330 for public four-year in-state students, $44,150 for public four-year out-of-state students, and $55,800 for private nonprofit four-year students.
Student debt and mental health
Student loan debt can significantly impact a borrower’s mental health. Feelings of anxiety and stress may coincide with any long-term debt, especially if the debt impedes the ability to meet critical financial milestones, like saving for a house or buying a car.
- Taking on too much student loan debt is the biggest financial regret of 10 percent of Americans.
- Forty-two percent of adults and 33 percent of Gen Z reported in 2018 that personal debt, including student loans, is a significant source of stress.
- The financial pressure of student loan payments can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression.
Student loan debt by degree
Advanced degrees are expensive, but the investment could pay off. Here’s what you need to know before taking out graduate student loans, according to the Brookings Institute and MeasureOne:
- Around 25 percent of all undergraduates graduate with less than $20,000 in student loan debt; borrowers who leave school with more than $57,500 have almost always borrowed for graduate school.
- About 25 percent of all student loan borrowers went to graduate school.
- Graduate students account for roughly half of the total outstanding student loan debt in the U.S.
- Those who earn an advanced degree may earn a larger annual income and have increased job security.
- Graduate students are less likely to fall into delinquency with private loans; 2.3 percent of undergraduate balances in repayment are at least 30 days delinquent, while 1.65 percent of graduate balances in repayment are at least 30 days delinquent.
Flexible Financing Could Be a Good Option For You
Under Flexible Financing Like Income Share Agreements; students have more options in higher education because they aren’t limited by finances.
Because their future funding is dependent on graduates securing paid employment, many schools may offer job search assistance. This helps students feel secure when they are picking a school or program because they won’t have to make payments until they secure a job.
Schools have little incentives to help graduates find a good-paying job post-graduation under traditional loans because their payments are not tied to the student’s income. A lender will likely have already paid them for your tuition.
An alternative to traditional private student loans in America is long overdue. We believe flexible Financing is that change.