Bold.org
Student Loan
Research Report

Up-to-date insights on student debt in the US, based on loans reported by more than 250733 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 250733 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 119316 students|Last update: September 24, 2021 03:25 PM GMT

Average debt for
Women vs. Men

Across our entire dataset, women carry 3% 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 109301 students|Last update: September 24, 2021 03:25 PM GMT

Average debt by Ethnicity

Based on data from Bold.org members, Black/African and Caucasian students carry the highest student debt, at $29,694 and $26,992 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 -9.4% higher rate than the next highest group!

Which States Have the Most Student Debt?
Insights based on 82284 students|Last update: September 24, 2021 03:25 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
Alaska4.8%$27,492
Alabama5.2%$26,474
Arkansas4.8%$24,002
Arizona5.1%$27,932
California5.1%$30,647
Colorado5.0%$29,026
Connecticut5.3%$35,668
Delaware4.7%$31,349
Florida5.2%$29,050
Georgia5.1%$28,482
Hawaii5.0%$28,421
Iowa4.6%$27,176
Idaho4.6%$22,876
Illinois5.3%$29,998
Indiana5.0%$26,308
Kansas4.8%$24,896
Kentucky5.0%$25,176
Louisiana5.1%$25,475
Massachusetts5.3%$34,396
Maryland5.3%$34,208
Maine5.0%$31,248
Michigan5.2%$29,739
Minnesota4.9%$26,627
Missouri5.1%$26,785
Mississippi5.8%$26,671
Montana4.6%$26,328
North Carolina5.3%$28,437
North Dakota4.9%$20,038
Nebraska4.7%$24,931
New Hampshire5.2%$34,172
New Jersey5.5%$34,584
New Mexico4.8%$24,878
Nevada5.2%$25,749
New York5.3%$32,340
Ohio5.2%$30,553
Oklahoma5.0%$24,530
Oregon5.1%$27,910
Pennsylvania5.5%$32,771
Rhode Island5.2%$29,610
South Carolina5.2%$25,747
South Dakota4.8%$22,278
Tennessee5.0%$27,211
Texas5.0%$25,140
Utah4.2%$20,401
Virginia5.2%$31,133
Vermont4.8%$32,152
Washington4.8%$28,243
Wisconsin5.1%$26,329
West Virginia5.0%$24,575
Wyoming4.4%$26,862
$22,953
Average tuition amount
Insights based on 250733 students|Last update: September 24, 2021 03:25 PM GMT
How Tuition Gets Paid
Insights based on 181116 students|Last update: September 24, 2021 03:25 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 69974 students|Last update: September 24, 2021 03:25 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 72492 students|Last update: September 24, 2021 03:25 PM GMT

The Federal Government

Based on 26801 loans
Avg loan size

$18,513

Avg interest rate

4.0%

Mohela

Based on 2072 loans
Avg loan size

$15,503

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 5779 loans
Avg loan size

$27,555

Avg interest rate

4.6%

AES/PHEAA

Based on 2681 loans
Avg loan size

$23,408

Avg interest rate

4.7%

Navient

Based on 8300 loans
Avg loan size

$30,828

Avg interest rate

4.8%

Nelnet

Based on 8983 loans
Avg loan size

$26,808

Avg interest rate

5.0%

Wells Fargo

Based on 1413 loans
Avg loan size

$22,261

Avg interest rate

6.8%

Discover

Based on 3223 loans
Avg loan size

$22,055

Avg interest rate

7.6%

Sallie Mae

Based on 11649 loans
Avg loan size

$24,468

Avg interest rate

7.8%

Methodology
Insights based on 250733 students|Last update: September 24, 2021 03:25 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 250733 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 250733-person data set to generate the analysis seen in this report.

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