Bold.org
Student Loan
Research Report

Up-to-date insights on student debt in the US, based on loans reported by more than 281077 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 281077 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 136943 students|Last update: November 10, 2021 06:41 PM GMT

Average debt for
Women vs. Men

Across our entire dataset, women carry 4% 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 125510 students|Last update: November 10, 2021 06:41 PM GMT

Average debt by Ethnicity

Based on data from Bold.org members, Black/African and Caucasian students carry the highest student debt, at $30,163 and $27,247 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 94734 students|Last update: November 10, 2021 06:41 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
Alaska5.3%$29,787
Alabama5.3%$26,943
Arkansas4.7%$24,135
Arizona5.0%$28,223
California5.1%$30,839
Colorado5.0%$29,157
Connecticut5.3%$35,265
Delaware4.7%$31,212
Florida5.3%$29,238
Georgia5.2%$29,331
Hawaii5.2%$29,960
Iowa4.6%$27,495
Idaho4.5%$24,468
Illinois5.3%$30,427
Indiana5.0%$26,396
Kansas4.8%$25,607
Kentucky5.0%$25,200
Louisiana5.2%$25,465
Massachusetts5.3%$34,532
Maryland5.3%$34,731
Maine4.8%$30,730
Michigan5.2%$29,767
Minnesota4.8%$27,260
Missouri5.2%$26,609
Mississippi5.8%$26,228
Montana4.6%$27,211
North Carolina5.2%$28,917
North Dakota4.8%$20,454
Nebraska4.8%$24,678
New Hampshire5.3%$34,538
New Jersey5.5%$34,533
New Mexico4.9%$25,532
Nevada5.0%$24,950
New York5.3%$32,828
Ohio5.1%$30,928
Oklahoma5.0%$24,123
Oregon5.1%$28,761
Pennsylvania5.5%$33,327
Rhode Island5.3%$30,115
South Carolina5.1%$26,111
South Dakota4.8%$22,699
Tennessee5.0%$27,413
Texas5.0%$25,269
Utah4.3%$21,027
Virginia5.2%$32,241
Vermont4.8%$31,385
Washington4.8%$28,894
Wisconsin5.1%$26,173
West Virginia4.9%$24,629
Wyoming4.3%$27,012
$22,798
Average tuition amount
Insights based on 281077 students|Last update: November 10, 2021 06:41 PM GMT
How Tuition Gets Paid
Insights based on 203327 students|Last update: November 10, 2021 06:41 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 80419 students|Last update: November 10, 2021 06:41 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 85151 students|Last update: November 10, 2021 06:41 PM GMT

The Federal Government

Based on 31482 loans
Avg loan size

$18,689

Avg interest rate

3.9%

Mohela

Based on 2070 loans
Avg loan size

$15,508

Avg interest rate

4.0%

Great Lakes

Based on 1591 loans
Avg loan size

$26,746

Avg interest rate

4.5%

Great Lakes Borrower Service

Based on 7620 loans
Avg loan size

$27,819

Avg interest rate

4.6%

AES/PHEAA

Based on 3196 loans
Avg loan size

$23,636

Avg interest rate

4.7%

Navient

Based on 9894 loans
Avg loan size

$30,854

Avg interest rate

4.8%

Nelnet

Based on 10624 loans
Avg loan size

$26,917

Avg interest rate

5.0%

Wells Fargo

Based on 1592 loans
Avg loan size

$22,247

Avg interest rate

6.8%

Discover

Based on 3639 loans
Avg loan size

$22,336

Avg interest rate

7.6%

Sallie Mae

Based on 13443 loans
Avg loan size

$24,592

Avg interest rate

7.8%

Methodology
Insights based on 281077 students|Last update: November 10, 2021 06:41 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 281077 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 281077-person data set to generate the analysis seen in this report.

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