Bold.org
Student Loan
Research Report

Up-to-date insights on student debt in the US, based on loans reported by more than 143038 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 143038 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 61175 students|Last update: May 14, 2021 02:37 PM GMT

Average debt for
Women vs. Men

Across our entire dataset, women carry 2% 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. 5.0%).

Which Ethnicities Have More Student Debt?
Insights based on 55886 students|Last update: May 14, 2021 02:37 PM GMT

Average debt by Ethnicity

Based on data from Bold.org members, Black/African and Caucasian students carry the highest student debt, at $27,142 and $24,786 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 -9.1% higher rate than the next highest group!

Which States Have the Most Student Debt?
Insights based on 41280 students|Last update: May 14, 2021 02:37 PM GMT

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
Alaska4.6%$23,231
Alabama5.2%$24,852
Arkansas4.8%$20,477
Arizona5.0%$25,917
California5.1%$29,490
Colorado5.0%$25,912
Connecticut5.1%$31,392
Delaware5.2%$29,635
Florida5.2%$26,979
Georgia5.1%$24,997
Hawaii5.0%$28,517
Iowa4.7%$24,148
Idaho4.5%$21,200
Illinois5.2%$26,789
Indiana4.8%$24,956
Kansas4.7%$22,726
Kentucky5.0%$21,427
Louisiana5.3%$23,605
Massachusetts5.4%$31,489
Maryland5.2%$29,136
Maine4.8%$29,409
Michigan5.3%$28,225
Minnesota4.9%$23,959
Missouri5.0%$23,706
Mississippi5.7%$26,963
Montana4.4%$23,167
North Carolina5.2%$26,120
North Dakota5.2%$17,061
Nebraska4.5%$24,329
New Hampshire5.1%$30,919
New Jersey5.4%$31,806
New Mexico4.7%$25,805
Nevada4.9%$24,983
New York5.3%$28,959
Ohio5.2%$26,151
Oklahoma5.0%$21,778
Oregon5.0%$26,525
Pennsylvania5.5%$30,326
Rhode Island5.0%$29,859
South Carolina5.2%$21,819
South Dakota4.7%$19,901
Tennessee4.8%$26,956
Texas5.0%$22,644
Utah4.1%$18,345
Virginia5.2%$28,152
Vermont4.9%$27,355
Washington5.0%$25,921
Wisconsin5.1%$23,430
West Virginia5.0%$22,835
Wyoming4.4%$24,369
$22,827
Average tuition amount
Insights based on 143038 students|Last update: May 14, 2021 02:37 PM GMT
How Tuition Gets Paid
Insights based on 102807 students|Last update: May 14, 2021 02:37 PM GMT

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 35436 students|Last update: May 14, 2021 02:37 PM GMT

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 34723 students|Last update: May 14, 2021 02:37 PM GMT

The Federal Government

Based on 13741 loans
Avg loan size

$17,148

Avg interest rate

4.0%

Mohela

Based on 1352 loans
Avg loan size

$14,609

Avg interest rate

4.1%

Great Lakes

Based on 1591 loans
Avg loan size

$26,666

Avg interest rate

4.5%

AES/PHEAA

Based on 1191 loans
Avg loan size

$23,116

Avg interest rate

4.9%

Navient

Based on 3798 loans
Avg loan size

$30,268

Avg interest rate

4.9%

Studentloan.com

Based on 584 loans
Avg loan size

$19,497

Avg interest rate

5.0%

Nelnet

Based on 4230 loans
Avg loan size

$25,541

Avg interest rate

5.1%

Wells Fargo

Based on 850 loans
Avg loan size

$21,577

Avg interest rate

6.8%

Discover

Based on 1654 loans
Avg loan size

$20,271

Avg interest rate

7.7%

Sallie Mae

Based on 5732 loans
Avg loan size

$23,629

Avg interest rate

7.7%

Methodology
Insights based on 143038 students|Last update: May 14, 2021 02:37 PM GMT

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 143038 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 143038-person data set to generate the analysis seen in this report.

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