Bold.org
Student Loan
Research Report

Up-to-date insights on student debt in the US, based on loans reported by more than 18941 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 18941 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 6760 students|Last update: August 6, 2020 01:07 PM GMT

Average debt for
Women vs. Men

Across our entire dataset, women carry 9% 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 (5.3% vs. 5.3%).

Which Ethnicities Have More Student Debt?
Insights based on 5687 students|Last update: August 6, 2020 01:07 PM GMT

Average debt by Ethnicity

Based on data from Bold.org members, Black/African and Caucasian students carry the highest student debt, at $23,514 and $22,521 respectively.

Average Interest Rate by Ethnicity

While interest rate patterns are similar across most ethnicities, Asian students stand out as an outlier, paying 5.5% interest on their student loans on average.

That's a 3.2% higher rate than the next highest group!

Which States Have the Most Student Debt?
Insights based on 4380 students|Last update: August 6, 2020 01:07 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
Alabama5.4%$23,603
Arkansas4.8%$28,043
Arizona4.8%$21,670
California5.3%$25,029
Colorado5.3%$21,932
Connecticut5.0%$28,216
Delaware5.5%$20,247
Florida5.2%$24,097
Georgia5.5%$19,962
Hawaii5.7%$28,664
Iowa4.4%$30,216
Idaho4.7%$21,014
Illinois5.8%$26,729
Indiana5.8%$19,015
Kansas4.4%$16,060
Kentucky4.8%$28,186
Louisiana5.2%$20,887
Massachusetts5.4%$28,780
Maryland4.8%$21,380
Maine6.1%$32,348
Michigan5.4%$21,487
Minnesota5.8%$24,960
Missouri5.0%$21,913
Mississippi5.5%$28,649
Montana4.8%$34,757
North Carolina5.3%$24,003
North Dakota5.0%$25,119
Nebraska5.2%$21,708
New Hampshire5.1%$30,736
New Jersey5.3%$30,363
New Mexico5.2%$17,186
Nevada4.7%$26,512
New York5.6%$29,474
Ohio5.3%$19,863
Oklahoma4.8%$16,498
Oregon6.0%$31,970
Pennsylvania5.8%$33,226
Rhode Island4.0%$22,103
South Carolina5.0%$22,521
South Dakota4.7%$10,944
Tennessee5.3%$24,716
Texas5.0%$18,058
Utah4.3%$16,076
Virginia5.4%$24,456
Vermont5.1%$23,794
Washington5.0%$26,024
Wisconsin5.3%$16,771
West Virginia4.8%$17,355
$25,337
Average tuition amount
Insights based on 18941 students|Last update: August 6, 2020 01:07 PM GMT
How Tuition Gets Paid
Insights based on 13168 students|Last update: August 6, 2020 01:07 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 4145 students|Last update: August 6, 2020 01:07 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 23% 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 3815 students|Last update: August 6, 2020 01:07 PM GMT

Mohela

Based on 158 loans
Avg loan size

$14,920

Avg interest rate

4.3%

The Federal Government

Based on 1596 loans
Avg loan size

$13,197

Avg interest rate

4.4%

Navient

Based on 365 loans
Avg loan size

$28,041

Avg interest rate

4.9%

Great Lakes

Based on 146 loans
Avg loan size

$32,212

Avg interest rate

5.1%

Nelnet

Based on 429 loans
Avg loan size

$22,337

Avg interest rate

5.3%

AES/PHEAA

Based on 66 loans
Avg loan size

$29,140

Avg interest rate

5.5%

Studentloan.com

Based on 75 loans
Avg loan size

$13,312

Avg interest rate

5.9%

Wells Fargo

Based on 141 loans
Avg loan size

$18,823

Avg interest rate

6.3%

Sallie Mae

Based on 652 loans
Avg loan size

$21,007

Avg interest rate

7.6%

Discover

Based on 187 loans
Avg loan size

$19,889

Avg interest rate

8.2%

Methodology
Insights based on 18941 students|Last update: August 6, 2020 01:07 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 18941 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 18941-person data set to generate the analysis seen in this report.

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