States With the Most Student Loan Debt

Around 800,000 people with student loans in the United States will be notified of debt relief by the U.S. government this week, the White House announced on Monday Aug. 14. 

According to the Biden administration’s statement, more than 614,000 borrowers will have their remaining debt completely canceled. The action — affecting approximately 1.8% of the nation’s 43.6 million people with student loan debt — addresses administrative failures that meant hundreds of thousands of borrowers were excluded from debt forgiveness under Income-Driven Repayment plans.

To add geographical context to the move by the federal government, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on state-level student debt from a report released July 6, 2023 by Chamber of Commerce, a product research company for real estate agents and entrepreneurs. 

The average federal student loan debt balance is $37,717, while the total average balance (including private loan debt) may be as high as $40,505. (Also see, as debt skyrockets here is the total credit card debt in America each year since 1986.)

Because of the recent history of skyrocketing college debt, and the life-long attachment of such debt to individuals, young people bear the brunt of the nation’s student debt problem. Borrowers under 40 years old together owe nearly $900 billion, or 55% of all student loan debt. 

However, millions of older Americans are still paying off sizable student debts. Looking at average debt by age cohort at the state level, 50- to 61-year-old borrowers hold the largest average debt in 28 states. 

Some opponents of debt cancellation have argued such programs would disproportionately benefit mostly white, high-income individuals, who are on the whole more likely to have a college degree. However, taking other salient factors such as the debt-to-income ratio into account reveals debt cancellation provides the most relief to non-white as well as low-income Americans with student debt. (Here are 30 college majors which actually pay more for Black versus white graduates.)

Economic and social policy think tank the Roosevelt Institute explains that “student debt cancellation — at all proposed levels — is progressive; it would provide more benefits to those with fewer economic resources and could play a critical role in addressing the racial wealth gap and building the Black middle class. The reason for this progressivity is simple: People from wealthy backgrounds (and their parents) rarely use student loans to pay for college.”

Click here to see states with the most student loan debt.

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