Average Student Loan Debt 2022December 9, 2022
If you have outstanding student loans, you’re not alone. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reported that Americans currently owe nearly $1.77 trillion in student loans, an increase of over $700 million in just ten years.
What’s behind the rise of education debt? One of the biggest causes is the increased cost of college. According to The College Board, tuition at public four-year universities has increased 124% over the past 30 years.
The amount of debt you will have when you graduate depends on several factors, including where you go to college, your state residency, available financial aid options, and how much money you contribute from your savings or income.
If you are one of the millions of people currently paying down student loan debt, there is hope. In this blog, we’ll share tips you can use to pay down your debt faster and better manage your finances.
Here are a few student loan debt statistics that offer insights into the average student loan debt and how it varies between groups.
- Percentage of College Graduates With Student Loan Debt: 58% of students graduating with bachelor’s degrees reported leaving school with student loans — approximately 2 million people.
- Average Student Loan Balance: $39,487
- Average Loan Balance by Borrower Type:
- Average Private Student Loan Balance Per Borrower: $32,100
- Number of People With Outstanding Student Loans: 165.9 million
- Average Time to Repay Loans: 16 to 19 years
Learn More: How Student Loan Debt Affects the Economy
Quarterly Student Loan Debt Statistics
How much student loan debt is there in the United States? The Federal Reserve calculates the total amount every quarter. At the beginning of 2007, the total student loan debt was just $544 billion. As of the third quarter of 2022, the total was $1.768 trillion.
|Q1 2020||$1.672 trillion|
|Q2 2020||$1.672 trillion|
|Q3 2020||$1.696 trillion|
|Q4 2020||$1.693 trillion|
|Q1 2021||$1.718 trillion|
|Q2 2021||$1.719 trillion|
|Q3 2021||$1.739 trillion|
|Q4 2021||$1.733 trillion|
|Q1 2022||$1.748 trillion|
|Q2 2022||$1.745 trillion|
|Q3 2022||$1.768 trillion|
Average Federal Student Loan Debt & Statistics
The vast majority of student loan borrowers — approximately 92% — use federal loans to pay for school. Federal loans tend to have low-interest rates and multiple repayment options, and loans for undergraduate students don’t require credit checks or have minimum income requirements. Here are a few statistics according to the National Center for Education Statistics, The College Board, and the Department of Education about federal loans:
- Percentage of Undergraduate Students With Federal Student Loans: Approximately 66.6.% of undergraduate students
- Average Annual Amount Borrowed by Undergraduate Students: $6,440
- Interest Rates:
- Origination Fee:
Federal Student Loan Debt by Type of Student Loan
There are currently four types of student loans issued by the federal government:
- Direct Subsidized: For undergraduate students that need significant financial assistance
- Direct Unsubsidized: For undergraduate and graduate students
- Direct PLUS: For graduate students and parents borrowing on behalf of their undergraduate children
- Direct Consolidation Loan: For borrowers that want to consolidate multiple student loans into a single loan
Here are a few important data points about each type of loan based on data released by the Department of Education:
|Loan Type||Number of Borrowers||Total Outstanding||Average Balance Per Borrower|
|Direct Subsidized||29.7 million||$291.9 billion||$9,828|
|Direct Unsubsidized||29.8 million||$571.5 billion||$19,178|
|Grad PLUS||1.6 million||$94.9 billion||$59,313|
|Parent PLUS||3.6 million||$106.3 billion||$29,528|
|Direct Consolidation||10.9 million||$548.7 billion||$50,339|
Average Private Student Loan Debt & Statistics
Federal loans for undergraduate students have both annual and aggregate caps, so students that reach the federal student loan borrowing limit have to find alternative sources of funding. And some students may be ineligible for federal aid due to their residency status or other factors. Private student loans can cover the remaining cost, helping them finish their education.
Private student loans make up just a small part of all student debt. Private loans account for just 7.6% of outstanding student loans.
- Total Private Student Loan Debt: $55.41 billion
- Undergraduate Private Student Loan Debt: 88.69% of private loans
- Graduate Private Student Loan Debt: 11.31% of private loans
- Average Amount Borrowed Per Year: $10,200
Average Student Loan Debt by Year
The amount of student loan debt has grown rapidly over the past few decades, and there are no signs of those increases stopping. Since 2017, the average student loan balance has grown by about 24%.
|Average Student Loan Balance||$31,844||$33,672||$35,620||$38,792||$39,487|
Student Loan Debt by Type of Educational Institution
Student debt totals also vary based on the type of educational institution you choose to attend. Here are the averages — inclusive of federal and private loans — based on the latest information from The College Board:
|Average Loan Balance||$27,400||$33,000|
Student Loan Debt by Age
Depending on your age, you may have had more time to pay down student loans – or acquire new ones. Here is the average outstanding student debt amount by age, according to data from Experian.
|Generation||Average Loan Balance|
|The Silent Generation (Born between 1928 and 1945)||$29,492|
|Boomers (Born between 1946 and 1964)||$42,351|
|Generation X (Born between 1965 and 1980)||$46,317|
|Millennials (Born between 1981 and 1996)||$46,281|
|Generation Z (Born between 1997 and 2012)||$18,878|
Student Loan Debt by Sex or Gender Identity
Studies show that women take out more student loans than men. Still, both are heavily impacted by student loan debt. The National Center for Education Statistics calculated the following statistics for federal student loan debt:
- Average Student Debt for Women: $31,700
- Average Student Debt for Men: $29,400
According to data from the Williams Institute, School of Law at UCLA, members of the LGBTQ+ community are also financially affected by student loans. Research shows that a higher percentage of transgender adults report having student loan debt than cisgender adults.
Percentage of Cisgender and LGBTQ+ Adults with Federal Student Loans
- Cisgender Male: 27.9%
- Cisgender female: 35.9%
- Transgender: 51%
Student Loan Debt by Race or Ethnicity
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, student loan debt also varies by race and ethnicity. According to the latest data, here are the average balances by race or ethnicity:
|Asian||Black||Hispanic or Latino||White (Not Hispanic or Latino)||Other or Two or more races, not Hispanic or Latino|
|Average Loan Balance||$26,500||$39,500||$28,200||$29,900||$31,000|
Student Loan Debt By Degree Attained
Students that choose to attend graduate school or doctoral programs will accumulate more debt over time. The total amount of debt depends on the type of degree and the selected school. Below are the average balances by degree according to the National Center for Education Statistics:
|Postbaccalaurate Certificate||Master’s||Doctor’s, Research||Doctor’s, Professional|
|Average Loan Balance||$67,800||$66,000||$108,400||$186,600|
Other Educational Debt Statistics
When it comes to paying for college, student loans aren’t the only financing method families use. Students and parents often borrow money in other ways to pay for their tuition or living expenses. According to a recent survey, the following methods are used:
|Type||Percent of Families Using This Method||Average Amount|
|Retirement Plan Loans||8%||$2,312|
|Home Equity Loans or Home Equity Lines of Credit||7%||$3,375|
Student Loan Forgiveness Statistics
There are several loan forgiveness programs for federal student loan borrowers. However, forgiveness is still rare.
Income-Driven Repayment (IDR)
IDR Plans extend repayment terms to 20 or 25 years and cap payments at a percentage of the borrower’s discretionary income. If the borrower still has a balance at the end of their repayment term, the remainder is discharged.
According to Pew Charitable Trusts, 30% of federal loan borrowers are enrolled in IDR plans and could be eligible for loan discharge.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Statistics
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program was launched in 2007. It was intended to encourage people to choose careers in public service by forgiving their loans after they worked ten years full-time for qualifying employers — generally non-profits or government agencies.
The Government Accountability Office reported in June 2022, the last available data, that 165,000 borrowers had received $10.5 billion in loan forgiveness. That number is about 9.77% of all applications.
Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan
In August 2022, President Biden announced a new program. Under the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan, borrowers would have up to $10,000 ($20,000 if they received a Pell Grant) forgiven.
The New York Federal Reserve said that the program would eliminate the balances for 40.5 million borrowers.
Two federal courts have put the program on hold, but in November, the Biden administration formally asked the Supreme Court to review the issue.
Student Loan Default Statistics
When you miss your payments, your loans enter default. With federal student loans, loans enter default after your payment is 270 days late. With private loans, you can enter default after just 90 days. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act went into place and suspended payments, so there have been no new defaults in two years. According to the Department of Education, the number of accounts in default has declined:
- Percentage of Borrowers in Default: 16%
- Number of Accounts in Default: 4.8 million
COVID-19 Impact on Student Loan Debt
The COVID-19 pandemic had a substantial impact on student loan borrowers. The CARES Act provided some relief for federal loan borrowers, but it did not apply to those with private student loans.
- Number of Federal Direct Loan Borrowers in COVID-19 Forbearance: 25 million
- Total Federal Loan Debt in COVID-19 Forbearance: Over $1 trillion
- Total that Opted Out of Payment Freeze: 430,000
Tips for Avoiding Student Loan Debt
While the majority of college graduates leave school with student loan debt, you may be able to cover the costs of college using other forms of financial aid.
- Work Over the Summer: Consider getting a part-time job or picking up a side hustle during school breaks. Working for a few months and stashing your earnings can help cover a significant portion of your college costs.
- Fill Out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid: Even if you aren’t sure whether you’ll qualify for financial aid, fill out the FAFSA. It’s what the federal government, states, schools, and some organizations use to determine your eligibility for all sorts of aid, including merit-based scholarships and grants.
- Search for External Scholarships and Grants: You can find gift aid that companies and non-profit organizations issue on your own. Use FastWeb and Scholarships.com to find and apply for scholarships and grants.
- Consider Work-Study Programs: Students that need financial assistance may be eligible for federal or state work-study programs. Working with the school’s financial assistance department, you’ll get a job related to your major and use the income to pay for some of your education expenses.
- Reduce your College Expenses: You can decrease the need for student loans by lowering your college costs. Commute to school, rent an off-campus apartment, and prepare your meals to save money.
Learn more: How to Avoid Student Loan Debt
Tips for Paying Off Student Loan Debt
Repaying student loan debt can be difficult, but it is possible. If you’re overwhelmed by your student loans, use the following tips to control your debt and pay off student loans faster:
- Find Your Loans: The first step in becoming debt-free is knowing how student loans work. Use the National Student Loan Data System and AnnualCreditReport.com to find out what loans are under your name, how much you owe, and who manages your loans.
- Create a Budget: Make a budget to ensure your income outpaces your spending, and look for areas where you can cut back to free up cash for debt repayment. You Need a Budget and Mint are excellent tools for recent grads and can help track your spending.
- Enroll in an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan: If you have federal loans and your payments are too high, contact your loan servicer and ask to enroll in an IDR plan. The plans base your payments on your discretionary income and an extended repayment term, potentially reducing your minimum payments.
- Find Out of Your Employer Will Help: Some employers offer student loan assistance as an employee benefit. Talk to your HR department to see if your company offers that option.
- Make Extra Payments: Look for additional cash that you can put toward your debt. Even an extra $10 or $20 per month can reduce your repayment term by several months and help you save on interest charges.
Save by Refinancing Your Student Loans
Student loan refinancing is another way to pay off your loans faster and save money. With refinancing, you’ll take out a new loan with a lender like ELFI to pay off your existing one.*
Depending on the lender’s student loan refinancing eligibility requirements, you could qualify for a lower interest rate and save thousands over the life of your loan. The benefits of student loan refinancing can be substantial, allowing you to become debt-free faster. Use ELFI’s student loan refinancing calculator to find out how much you can save.