There’s no getting around it… student loans suck. And to help you wrap your head around the current state of student debt in the U.S., I’ve compiled a list of some of the most shocking, expected, and frustrating student loan debt statistics for 2019.
1. The total amount of student loan debt has hit $1.49 trillion
$1.49 trillion – that number is massive.
It’s also a little hard to comprehend, so here are a few more numbers to help you understand this statistic:
- That’s approximately $500 billion more than the total amount of credit card debt.
- This is up to $29 billion from the previous quarter.
- There are 44.7 million U.S. borrowers carrying that debt.
- Student loans make up 11% of the total U.S. debt, which is currently $13.67 trillion. It’s the second-largest type of debt, with the largest being mortgages.
- If you took that $1.49 trillion balance and divvied it up between every single person in the U.S., we’d all owe approximately $4,500 in student loans… sorry babies.
P.S. Not trying to get political with that last point, just trying to comprehend that total amount of student loan debt.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York
2. 99% of people applying for student loan forgiveness are rejected
If you are thinking that you might one day apply for public service loan forgiveness (or PSLF), know that your chances of acceptance are extremely low. This is a program offered for individuals working in public service jobs, including government, Peace Corps or AmeriCorps, public education, public health, tax-exempt not-for-profit companies, etc.
To qualify, applicants must be able to check both of these boxes at the same time:
- Make 120 (or 10 years worth of payments) under a qualifying payment plan
- Work full-time for a qualifying employer
In 2019, of the 86,006 PSLF applicants, only 864 received an approval.
The biggest reason for so many rejection letters – applicants didn’t meet the standard for qualifying payments. For payments to be considered “qualifying” you must be paying them through the Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), or Income Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR).
The most shocking thing about this student loan debt statistic is that 1% is the highest PSLF acceptance rate in over a year.
3. Graduates of private nonprofit four-year schools carry an average student loan debt of $32,600
For graduates of public four-year schools, the average student loan debt is $26,900. Remember, these are average and only for undergraduate degrees.
But, possibly the most surprising (and good) part is that when you look at historic data for private nonprofit four-year schools is that some of the numbers are starting to drop, a little:
- In 2006-2007, 66% of graduates had student loan debt. In 2016-2017, that number had fallen to 61%.
- The average per student amount of debt fell by 1% between 2011-2012 and 2016-2017.
Source: The College Board
4. 2 out of 10 adults are behind on their student loan payments
Your risk of delinquency coincides with how much college you have completed:
- 37% of borrowers who are no longer enrolled in school and have less than an associate’s degree are behind on payments.
- 21% of borrowers with associate’s degrees are behind.
- 10% of borrowers with bachelor’s degrees are behind.
- 6% of borrowers with graduate degrees are delinquent.
Source for this and the following two student loan debt statistics: Federal Reserve
5. $200-$299 is the average student loan debt payment
The amount you pay towards your student loans is dependent on the total amount you owe, your student loan repayment plan, and family size
If you want to get an idea of how it all works, StudentLoans.gov has a free repayment calculator that takes all of your relevant information and estimates your payments.
6. 31% of people have taken on other forms of debt to finance college
The truth about the student loan debt crisis is that it isn’t financed completely on student loans alone.
- 24% of borrowers have used credit cards to take on college debt.
- 7% have used a home equity line of credit (HELOC).
- 12% have taken on some other kind of debt.
7. Millennials with student loan debt are twice as likely to have more than one job
Millennials take a lot of crap, but we’re known for being pretty industrious… we hustle hard. That’s why this point doesn’t really shock me. I also know how awesome side hustles are at helping you meet larger financial goals, like paying off your debt.
Source: Pew Research Center
8. Millennials are more likely to have student loan debt, but Gen-Xers average larger student loan balances
When you break average student debt down by age, here are the statistics:
- Gen Z: 1% have student loans, and the average balance is $11,830
- Millennials:5% have student loans, and the average balance is $33,579
- Gen X: 17% carry student loans, and the average balance is $39,802
- Baby Boomers: 8% with student loans, and the average balance is $36,246
- Silent Generation: 3% have student loans, and the average balance is $26,341
Most experts believe that the two oldest generations are carrying some student debt for their children and grandchildren.
9. The graduating class of 2018 missed out on $2.6 billion in Pell Grants
661,000 recent college graduates would have qualified for Pell Grants had they only filled out their FAFSA. Those students could have received up to $6,095 for the 2018-2019 school year.
What are Pell Grants?
They are a subsidy of the U.S. government, providing qualifying students with free money for college. The money you get depends on your level of financial need and the cost of your tuition.
But, you have to fill out a FAFSA to see if you qualify, which you can do here!
10. Big degrees come at a higher cost
Not at all surprising, but the higher your level of education, the more debt you are likely to incur. Here are the average student debt statistics for graduate and postgraduate degrees:
- Medical school grads have student loan debt of $196,520
- Law school graduates average $145,500
- Those with a PhD (not in education) average $98,800
- Those holding a Masters of Educations average $55,200
- MBA holders average $66,300
The final word on student loan debt statistics in the U.S.
I said good-bye to my $40,000 student loan debt about four years ago.
On teacher’s salary, I spent 18 months practicing extreme frugality to pay them off – I don’t usually recommend this approach either because it was miserable… think renting a 10’x10’ room in your in-law’s house, never buying anything, never going on vacation. I basically lived like a monk.
I hated living like that. But, paying off that student loan debt is one of my top 3 life choices, right next to asking my wife to marry me and starting M$M.
That’s because being debt-free opens doors.
If you want help destroying your student loan debt, you can do it. Start today by downloading my free Money Mastery Guide. It’s a step-by-step guide to making more, saving more, and paying off your debt.