Bold.org
Student Loan
Research Report

Up-to-date insights on student debt in the US, based on loans reported by more than 406388 Bold.org members.

Student loan debt in the United States has reached a staggering $1.6 trillion, leading to a drop in everything from marriage rates, to small business formation, to career ambitions, to savings rates across the country.

To help understand the problem in more detail, we’re sharing the results of our proprietary research with Bold.org members, based on over 406388 loans reported.

Do women or men have more student debt? Which states have the highest debt per student? Which private lenders offer the lowest interest rates? Read on to find insights on this and more!

Table Of Contents

Do Women or Men Have More Debt?
Insights based on 205103 students|Last update: May 18, 2022 03:07 AM UTC

Average debt for
Women vs. Men

Across our entire dataset, women carry 5% more debt than men on average. It's clear that this gap starts to develop while women are still in school, and research shows that it gets more pronounced after graduation, with women holding two thirds of outstanding student loan debt overall.

Average interest rate for
Women vs. Men

While women tend to have more student debt than men, women and men carry almost identical interest rates on their student loans (5.1% vs. 4.9%).

Which Ethnicities Have More Student Debt?
Insights based on 188409 students|Last update: May 18, 2022 03:07 AM UTC

Average debt by Ethnicity

Based on data from Bold.org members, Black/African and Caucasian students carry the highest student debt, at $31,671 and $27,499 respectively.

Average Interest Rate by Ethnicity

While interest rate patterns are similar across most ethnicities, Asian students stand out as an outlier, paying 5.0% interest on their student loans on average.

That's a -9.6% higher rate than the next highest group!

Which States Have the Most Student Debt?
Insights based on 141844 students|Last update: May 18, 2022 03:07 AM UTC

Average debt by state

This rapid rise in student debt has led to a drop in everything from marriage rates, to small business formation, to career ambitions, to savings rates across the country.

State
Average rate
Average debt
Alaska5.3%$32,589
Alabama5.4%$27,508
Arkansas4.8%$24,683
Arizona4.9%$28,508
California5.0%$31,226
Colorado4.9%$29,659
Connecticut5.2%$35,393
Delaware4.8%$31,933
Florida5.2%$29,901
Georgia5.2%$30,550
Hawaii4.9%$30,392
Iowa4.7%$26,555
Idaho4.5%$25,962
Illinois5.2%$31,712
Indiana5.0%$26,741
Kansas4.7%$25,675
Kentucky5.0%$24,295
Louisiana5.2%$25,814
Massachusetts5.2%$35,921
Maryland5.2%$35,945
Maine4.9%$32,284
Michigan5.2%$30,146
Minnesota4.9%$27,029
Missouri5.0%$27,327
Mississippi5.7%$26,648
Montana4.6%$27,416
North Carolina5.1%$29,463
North Dakota4.6%$21,055
Nebraska4.7%$25,313
New Hampshire5.4%$34,300
New Jersey5.4%$35,448
New Mexico4.8%$24,963
Nevada5.0%$26,924
New York5.3%$34,411
Ohio5.2%$30,943
Oklahoma5.0%$24,775
Oregon5.0%$28,947
Pennsylvania5.6%$33,949
Rhode Island5.2%$30,629
South Carolina5.1%$27,549
South Dakota4.6%$22,705
Tennessee5.0%$28,806
Texas4.9%$26,263
Utah4.1%$21,368
Virginia5.1%$32,989
Vermont5.1%$33,361
Washington4.8%$29,272
Wisconsin5.0%$26,053
West Virginia4.8%$26,791
Wyoming4.5%$26,466
$22,866
Average tuition amount
Insights based on 406388 students|Last update: May 18, 2022 03:07 AM UTC
How Tuition Gets Paid
Insights based on 293224 students|Last update: May 18, 2022 03:07 AM UTC

Most colleges have eye-popping sticker prices, which means that paying tuition becomes a team effort. The largest way tuition gets paid is through aid, followed closely by loans and payments made by students themselves.

The Average Student Loan
Insights based on 118952 students|Last update: May 18, 2022 03:07 AM UTC

Loan size vs. interest rate

Most borrowers take out multiple loans as they need to borrow more, rather than borrow all at once. This can help keep debt to a minimum, but it also means that many students end up with multiple loans, all from different lenders with different interest rates.

Principal Remaining vs. Amount Borrowed

Unfortunately, debt tends to grow for students on average, not shrink. The average student owes 28% more on their loan than they did when they initially took the loan out!

Unlike subsidized federal loans which don’t start accruing interest until 6 months after students graduate, private student loans and unsubsidized federal student loans start accruing interest immediately. These account for a substantial proportion of student loans, and when combined with low earnings from students while in school, result in ballooning student loan principals.

Which Private Lenders Are Best?
Insights based on 134268 students|Last update: May 18, 2022 03:07 AM UTC

The Federal Government

Based on 49603 loans
Avg loan size

$19,128

Avg interest rate

3.9%

Great Lakes Borrower Service

Based on 14811 loans
Avg loan size

$27,479

Avg interest rate

4.5%

AES/PHEAA

Based on 4731 loans
Avg loan size

$23,882

Avg interest rate

4.7%

Ed Loan Trust IV

Based on 2976 loans
Avg loan size

$20,743

Avg interest rate

4.7%

Navient

Based on 14851 loans
Avg loan size

$31,172

Avg interest rate

4.9%

Nelnet

Based on 16858 loans
Avg loan size

$27,041

Avg interest rate

5.0%

Wells Fargo

Based on 2231 loans
Avg loan size

$22,605

Avg interest rate

6.7%

College Ave

Based on 2245 loans
Avg loan size

$19,555

Avg interest rate

7.1%

Discover

Based on 5426 loans
Avg loan size

$23,432

Avg interest rate

7.6%

Sallie Mae

Based on 20536 loans
Avg loan size

$24,906

Avg interest rate

7.8%

Methodology
Insights based on 406388 students|Last update: May 18, 2022 03:07 AM UTC

Our research team began by interviewing undergraduate and graduate students with loans. We asked a series of questions to understand their decision-making processes for borrowing, their plans for repayment, and their top questions about their loans.

We then reviewed survey data collected from 406388 Bold.org members to surface patterns in student loans. Our survey data included:

  • Detailed loan data, including initial loan amount, principal remaining, interest rate, lender, and more.
  • Demographic data, including gender, ethnicity, and location.
  • Education data, including degree, school, and years in degree.

Before using survey data, we manually reviewed responses to identify and remove any responses that were strong outliers indicative of unreliable reporting from respondents.

Finally, we used the resulting 406388-person data set to generate the analysis seen in this report.

To inquire further about our methodology, please email research@bold.org.