Bold.org
Student Loan
Research Report

Up-to-date insights on student debt in the US, based on loans reported by more than 111746 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 111746 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 46299 students|Last update: March 5, 2021 08:52 AM GMT

Average debt for
Women vs. Men

Across our entire dataset, women carry 6% 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 (5.2% vs. 5.0%).

Which Ethnicities Have More Student Debt?
Insights based on 42453 students|Last update: March 5, 2021 08:52 AM GMT

Average debt by Ethnicity

Based on data from Bold.org members, Black/African and Caucasian students carry the highest student debt, at $26,410 and $23,444 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 -8.6% higher rate than the next highest group!

Which States Have the Most Student Debt?
Insights based on 31253 students|Last update: March 5, 2021 08:52 AM 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
Alaska4.7%$22,717
Alabama5.2%$23,125
Arkansas5.0%$21,020
Arizona4.9%$25,529
California5.2%$27,942
Colorado5.0%$24,655
Connecticut5.2%$30,124
Delaware4.9%$27,372
Florida5.2%$25,255
Georgia5.1%$24,693
Hawaii5.1%$27,362
Iowa4.8%$23,128
Idaho4.5%$20,192
Illinois5.2%$26,382
Indiana4.7%$24,471
Kansas4.7%$20,747
Kentucky5.1%$20,730
Louisiana5.4%$22,898
Massachusetts5.5%$31,618
Maryland5.3%$28,665
Maine4.7%$26,673
Michigan5.1%$25,888
Minnesota5.0%$23,387
Missouri5.0%$23,300
Mississippi5.4%$25,515
Montana4.5%$21,767
North Carolina5.3%$25,195
North Dakota5.3%$16,435
Nebraska4.5%$22,448
New Hampshire5.3%$30,056
New Jersey5.4%$30,054
New Mexico4.4%$23,261
Nevada4.7%$24,237
New York5.3%$28,010
Ohio5.4%$24,614
Oklahoma5.2%$20,325
Oregon5.1%$25,789
Pennsylvania5.6%$28,855
Rhode Island5.1%$26,916
South Carolina5.3%$21,266
South Dakota4.7%$18,532
Tennessee4.9%$25,897
Texas5.0%$21,461
Utah4.1%$16,718
Virginia5.2%$27,413
Vermont4.6%$27,105
Washington5.0%$25,236
Wisconsin5.1%$21,240
West Virginia5.2%$22,783
Wyoming4.5%$25,133
$22,440
Average tuition amount
Insights based on 111746 students|Last update: March 5, 2021 08:52 AM GMT
How Tuition Gets Paid
Insights based on 80634 students|Last update: March 5, 2021 08:52 AM 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 27025 students|Last update: March 5, 2021 08:52 AM 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 26229 students|Last update: March 5, 2021 08:52 AM GMT

The Federal Government

Based on 10612 loans
Avg loan size

$15,720

Avg interest rate

4.0%

Mohela

Based on 1005 loans
Avg loan size

$13,730

Avg interest rate

4.1%

Great Lakes

Based on 1123 loans
Avg loan size

$26,382

Avg interest rate

4.5%

AES/PHEAA

Based on 721 loans
Avg loan size

$23,496

Avg interest rate

4.8%

Navient

Based on 2799 loans
Avg loan size

$29,425

Avg interest rate

5.0%

Studentloan.com

Based on 510 loans
Avg loan size

$18,386

Avg interest rate

5.0%

Nelnet

Based on 3152 loans
Avg loan size

$24,997

Avg interest rate

5.1%

Wells Fargo

Based on 684 loans
Avg loan size

$21,438

Avg interest rate

6.7%

Discover

Based on 1253 loans
Avg loan size

$20,102

Avg interest rate

7.6%

Sallie Mae

Based on 4370 loans
Avg loan size

$22,979

Avg interest rate

7.7%

Methodology
Insights based on 111746 students|Last update: March 5, 2021 08:52 AM 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 111746 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 111746-person data set to generate the analysis seen in this report.

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