Total Student Loan Debt Statistics

Student loan statistics show many people are facing difficulty paying up their loans and for good reason. The coronavirus lockdown in 2020, massive lay-offs, and economic decline caused panic in the hearts of many. Due to all this, experts say that the increasing student loan debt in America is causing many to switch from traditional learning to online learning platforms. An example is the declining number of students who are registering into traditional higher institutions. This is causing rising tensions and making private and public universities seek alternative means of holding classes.

In this article, we will discuss the total student loan debt statistics in 2021. 

How Much Student Loan Debt Is There?

Student loan debt grows approximately 6 times faster than the US economy.

According to the federal reserve bank 2020 statistics, the average student loan debt is up to a staggering $1.6 trillion. However, the total amount of student loan debt has increased to $1.7 trillion according to Forbes. 

Student loan debt is the second highest consumer debt category in the US.

The first highest debt category in the US is mortgage debt, followed by student loan debt, credit card debt, and auto loans. 

11.1% of people with student loan debt are at least 90 days late on their payment.

This figure is 4.6% higher than the percentage of student loan debt defaulters in 2020 which was 6.5%.

There are 45 million people with student loan debt in America. 

In 2009, about 68% of college graduates took on student loan debt,

Borrowers with more advanced degrees are more likely to pay their student loan debt than their peers.

Individuals with student loan debts who have less than an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree are 37% less likely to pay their student loan debt in time. However, borrowers with advanced degrees are more likely to pay off their student loan debt in time despite having larger amounts as debt. This can be seen with Asian bachelor’s degree holders who are most likely to have paid off their student debts. 

7.8 million the total student loan debtors are below the age of 25.

They cumulatively owe $115.50 billion in debt. This figure will increase over the years because of the rising cost of tuition in both public and private universities across the US. 

What Percentage of the Population Has Student Loan Debt?

Over, 50% of the US population had student loan debt in 2020. 

This accounts for approximately 45 million student loan borrowers. 

The monthly student loan payment is now averagely $400. 

The average monthly payment has nearly doubled since 2005 when it was $227. This is a vital reason for the fact that barely 51% of borrowers have made productive efforts towards paying up their debt 5 years after school. 

Public university students borrow $30,030 to get a bachelor’s degree. 

Students who attend private nonprofit and for-profit universities borrow $33,900 and $43,900 respectively. That is why they often have more difficulty paying up their student loan debt compared to their peers who attended public schools. However, 9% of borrowers who had attended public universities were late on their student loan debt payment by the 09th of May 2020. 

The student loan debt growth rate is 353.8% times the rise in the cost of tuition. 

43% of people throughout the US say they had educational debt while 56% of students leaving college graduate with debt. 

Borrowers are expected to pay their student loan debt in 10 years.

However, this is not always the case. While a few borrowers can pay off their debt in less than 10 years, most borrowers pay their student loan debt till they are 45 years old. That is why people between the ages of 25 to 44 years make the highest group of student loan debt borrowers. 

U.s Student Loan Debt Statistics

The average student loan is $37,693 in 2021. 

In 2020, the Federal reserve recorded the highest average student debt loan in about 10 years. The average student loan debtor is $37,584 in debt. This figure has risen by $109 and is now at $37,693. 

65% of college students graduate with student loan debt.

These college graduate debts are partly responsible for the 23.6% growth rate of student loan debts every year. 

The percentage of student loan borrowers with undergraduate and postgraduate debt is between 39 to 50%.

About 94.8% of borrowers got into debt to attain an undergraduate degree. 15% of these borrowers say they have enormous amounts to pay. However, only 44.2% of student loan borrowers got into debt because of postgraduate education and 7% of them say they have vast amounts in debt. 

Washington, DC, has the highest average student loan debt of $55,400.

This figure is $26,200 higher than the average student loan debt in North Dakota, which is $29,200. However, the monthly payment of student debt in Washington D.C is also more than the usual $200 to $299 borrowers in other states pay. 

Eighteen percent of school loan borrowers have less than $5000 left in payments.

Despite this number, about 23% of bachelor’s degree holders graduate with less than $20,000 student loan debt. Another 30% of bachelor’s degree holders leave school completely debt-free. 

Federal Student Loan Debt

About 42.9 million Americans owe $36,406 in Federal loan debt. 

The total Federal outstanding student loan debt is at $1.57 billion. Out of this, 56.65% of the federal student loan is under the suspension of the payment period that will last till September 2021. Within this time, qualified borrowers will not pay late fees or be charged for default. 

7.8% of federal student loan debt is unaccounted for because of defaulters.

The percentage of loans in default reduced by 1.79% by the 3rd financial quarter of 2020. A reason for this is the stimulus checks that the government has given out on three occasions already. With the most recent stimulus check payment in March 2021. 

Thirty percent of undergraduates take federal student loans.

The cumulative amount they borrow as student loans make up 92.6% of the total student loan debt. 

This is just 7.4% shy of the total student loan debt amount. 

0.4% of this debt is from Perkins loans

While 35.5% of it is direct merged loans. 

Stafford loans account for 52.8% of federal student loan debt.

Unsubsidized Stafford loans account for 34.3% of federal student loan debt while 18.6% of this debt is in subsidized Stafford loans. 

Grad PLUS loans account for 5% of student loan debt. 

Another 6.4% is from parents who took out PLUS loans on behalf of their children. Often, the parents of male children are the ones who will take out loans for their children compared to those with female children. 

Private Student Loan Debt

Graduates from private schools are twice less likely to pay their student loan debt in time. 

The reason being it often compelled them to make higher monthly student loan payments than their peers who took federal loans.

The national figure for the private school loan debt is $137 billion. 

Private student debt accounts for 8.4% of the outstanding student loan debt in America. It is lower than the federal outstanding student loan debt of $1.57 billion but no less important. 

11.5% of the private school loan balance is for graduate student loans.

The remaining 88.55% is for undergraduate loans. Out of the borrowers, 13% of them turn to private finance sources such as credit unions to get student loans.

Other Type of Educational Debt‘s

Other educational debt includes loans that students took to cater to needs that student loans do not cover. 

  1. Eleven percent of borrowers took home equity loans to fund their children and grandchildren. 
  2. Twenty-three percent of borrowers with outstanding student loan debt have a credit balance. 
  3. Ninety-five percent of those who took student loans to fund their education owe a student loan balance.

Student Loan Debt Demographics

By Sex or Gender 

LQBTQ students have on average $16000 in student debt compared to students who do not identify as LGBTQ. 

They are the highest borrowers and only come second to women who account for 58% or $929 billion of all student loan debts. Among them, Black women have the highest average amount of debt while Asian women have the lowest average amount of debt. 

Men are less likely to make student loan payments less than $100 per month.

25% of men make monthly payments less than $100 compared to 28% of women. However, both sexes are 24% likely to make monthly payments of over $350. 

Compared to men and women, multi-gender borrowers have the lowest-paying rates and are 38% more likely to make payments less than $100. 

Students had the lowest probability of having an exorbitant amount of debt. 

Gender nonconforming student loan borrowers had a higher probability of having a total student loan debt of less than $25000 compared to multi-gender students who had the most outstanding student loan debt rate. 

Female borrowers have lower chances of owing high amounts of student loan debts compared to male borrowers. 

This happens despite parents the fact that parents being more likely to take loans on behalf of males, while females are more likely to take loans for themselves. 

One year after graduation, women have an average debt that is 9.6% higher than males. 

Compared to men, women take two extra years to pay off their student loans. Women of color are 20% most likely to have student debts compared to most men and 12% more likely to have debt than most other women. 

44% of an average White man’s student loan drops within the first 12 years of repayment. 

That of White women averagely reduces by 28% while black women instead experience a 135 spike in their student loan debt amount within the same time frame. 

67.2% of female borrowers received federal loans compared to 55.9% of male borrowers. 

Likewise, 24.2% of female borrowers received non-federal loans while 21.5% of their male counterparts received non-federal loans. It is, therefore, no surprise that 24.2% of male students received federal loans compared to 67.2% of female students. 

Females with a bachelor’s degree are more likely to make more significant monthly payments despite earning 74% of what their male counterparts make. 

51% of men make monthly payments that are 75% higher than other monthly payments compared to 54% of women who make student loan payments in the 75th percentile. 13% of women make monthly payments in the 25th percentile compared to 15% of men who make payments in the 25th percentile. 

By Race or Ethnicity 

Asian student borrowers are 52% likely to have a net worth that is greater than their student loan debt. 

However, African American and Black students are more likely to face financial hardships for paying up their student loan debt.

Asian students have a 52% chance of having a net worth that exceeds their student loan debt. 

Their Black counterparts with loan debt are 50% likely to have a net worth that is less than their student loan debt. Therefore 40% of Black students still have graduate school loan debt. 

Black and Hispanic student loan borrowers put off a major activity in their lives because of their student loan debt. 

46% of Blacks with student loan debt decided against buying a house while 33% of Hispanic student loan borrowers put a hold on their plans for marriage.

14% of black students owe over 12.5% of their initial loan 4 years after graduation

While 83% of White students would have paid over 88% of their student loan debt after 4 years. 

Asian students are the least likely to receive federal loans while Black students are the most likely to get federal loans. 

Yet, 23% of Asian students use only 4% of student loans and 50.8% of Black students use student loans. 

55% of all loans go to White students.

40.2% of White undergraduates use this money to fund their tuition fees, Pacific Islanders get 0.3% of loans. They are also the least likely to receive federal loans compared to White students who are the most likely to receive federal loans. 

By Age 

  • One-third of the adults under 30 in the US with student loan debt account for 34% or $571.2 billion of the national student loan debt balance. 
  • Regarding aid, 77.2% of this number are recipients of aid. 37.8% of the 77.2% of them are enrolled full-time.
  • 30- to 60-year-olds have average loan debts exceeding the national average.
  • Adults between the ages of 30 to 45 years account for nearly half of all student loan debt.
  • Borrowers 24 years old and below owe an average of $16,500 in student loan debt.
  • Borrowers aged 25 to 34 are 7.8 million and owe a total outstanding student loan debt of $500.50 billion.
  • Approximately 4% of those 45 years and older have student loan debt compared to one in five adults (22%) between the ages 30 to 44.
  • Thirteen percent of adults in their 40s have student loan debt compared to 12.5% of adults in their 50s with student loan debt.
  • Older adults 62 years and older are 2.3 million and owe an outstanding student loan debt of $86.80 billion. 
  • There are 14.2 million borrowers between the ages of 35 – 49 years who owe a total outstanding student debt of $601.7 billion.
Borrowers above the age of 35 have the highest average student loan debt. 

Averagely, they owe $42,600 per person and have an end balance that is 287% higher than their initial total debt. 

 Black people with student loan debt are the second most likely to be consistent with paying their student loan debt.

 63% compared to other under 40-year-olds from other races. They are only second to Asians who often take lower student loan debts and have higher chances of paying above $350 in monthly payments. 

34% of the adult population between the ages of 18 to 29 years has student loan debt. 

It could be because they are still in school or recently completed their studies and are not financially viable enough to pay up their debts. 

Student Loan Debt Repayment Statistics 

There are 3.2 million new Federal loan borrowers. 

Despite this number of new borrowers, 1 out of 4 student loan debt borrowers is completely unable to pay their student loan debt or are struggling to make the monthly payments. 

The Student Debt Crisis Facts

While White student loan borrowers can pay up to 10% of their student loan debt annually, their Black counterparts can only scrape 4% of their total student debt. This is true even though White students usually take student loans of $30,000 and Blacks take student loans of $34,000. One reason for the loan repayment gap is the stark difference in the racial pay gap. It allows one group to thrive while the other languishes. 

Women make less money than men with the same degree

The average man gets paid the same amount as a woman with a higher degree than him. This disparity in pay gap due to gender bias makes it difficult for women to pay their student loans in time causing them to be accountable for two-thirds of the total student loan debt according to 2019 statistics. 

COVID’s Impact on Student Loan Debt 

1 in 4 people with student loan debts is behind the payment schedule because of the pandemic.

That accounts for 25% of the entire population of borrowers being unable to pay their debts. Therefore, no surprise that student loan debt is estimated to be about $8 trillion by the year 2022.

The private loan approval rate climbed to 22%. 

It has gone up by 6% after facing a decline in the past years that dropped to 16% in 2019. 

40% of freshman said they may change their mind about their school of choice in 2020

These freshmen are turning towards online learning platforms since they are cheaper and provide almost the same material as a traditional classroom. 

Between March 2020 to March 2021, the coronavirus emergency relief measures on Federal student loans have been extended 6 times

This is helpful for debtors who were consistent with repaying their student loans until the 13th of March 2020 when the payment of loans was suspended. Their interest will not capitalize. However, if a student loan debtor was inconsistent in paying up their debt before the suspension of loan payments, it should assure them that the accrued interest will capitalize. 


The student debt graph shows an increase in the total student loan debt in the last decade. It is not just affecting vulnerable populations but the government as well. According to student loan statistics, the coming of the coronavirus has made it even more difficult for borrowers to feed because of layoffs talkless, pay their debts. 

The government’s initiative to pause the payment of student loans till September 2021 is a great initiative. However, bridging the wage gap between the genders and distinct races will reduce the amount of student loan debt. It will also lead to a drop in student loan totals because more people will have the funds to self-finance without taking a loan. 

Helen Vlasova
Helen is the co-founder of, a career guidance website for students and young professionals. She has a degree in English from the University of Michigan. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.

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