Bold.org
Student Loan
Research Report

Up-to-date insights on student debt in the US, based on loans reported by more than 9222 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 9222 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 3141 students|Last update: May 26, 2020 10:02 AM GMT

Average debt for
Women vs. Men

Across our entire dataset, women carry 8% 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 (5.5% vs. 5.6%).

Which Ethnicities Have More Student Debt?
Insights based on 2118 students|Last update: May 26, 2020 10:02 AM GMT

Average debt by Ethnicity

Based on data from Bold.org members, Native American and Hispanic/Latino students carry the highest student debt, at $24,641 and $24,260 respectively.

Average Interest Rate by Ethnicity

While interest rate patterns are similar across most ethnicities, Asian students stand out as an outlier, paying 6.5% interest on their student loans on average.

That's a 18.9% higher rate than the next highest group!

Which States Have the Most Student Debt?
Insights based on 1897 students|Last update: May 26, 2020 10:02 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
Alabama6.2%$18,279
Arkansas5.8%$41,397
Arizona5.2%$21,497
California5.5%$23,057
Colorado5.3%$28,096
Connecticut4.6%$29,215
Florida6.1%$21,850
Georgia6.0%$21,896
Iowa4.3%$20,419
Idaho5.8%$25,102
Illinois5.8%$23,352
Indiana5.8%$19,409
Kansas4.8%$15,906
Kentucky5.7%$24,362
Louisiana5.2%$17,410
Massachusetts5.9%$23,471
Maryland4.2%$19,522
Michigan5.8%$17,621
Minnesota6.0%$33,641
Missouri4.5%$20,566
North Carolina5.3%$27,327
Nebraska5.9%$12,078
New Hampshire5.3%$34,974
New Jersey4.9%$24,092
Nevada5.1%$27,414
New York5.8%$36,947
Ohio4.8%$22,110
Oklahoma4.4%$13,632
Oregon6.9%$44,039
Pennsylvania6.2%$35,743
South Carolina5.8%$33,093
Tennessee5.0%$19,228
Texas5.4%$19,547
Utah5.0%$21,152
Virginia5.5%$23,662
Washington5.3%$27,024
Wisconsin5.7%$16,107
$25,432
Average tuition amount
Insights based on 9222 students|Last update: May 26, 2020 10:02 AM GMT
How Tuition Gets Paid
Insights based on 6225 students|Last update: May 26, 2020 10:02 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 1926 students|Last update: May 26, 2020 10:02 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 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 1726 students|Last update: May 26, 2020 10:02 AM GMT

Mohela

Based on 70 loans
Avg loan size

$11,266

Avg interest rate

4.3%

The Federal Government

Based on 746 loans
Avg loan size

$12,683

Avg interest rate

4.8%

Studentloan.com

Based on 35 loans
Avg loan size

$8,779

Avg interest rate

5.1%

Navient

Based on 143 loans
Avg loan size

$25,639

Avg interest rate

5.2%

Great Lakes

Based on 69 loans
Avg loan size

$34,424

Avg interest rate

5.3%

Nelnet

Based on 196 loans
Avg loan size

$23,910

Avg interest rate

5.3%

Wells Fargo

Based on 67 loans
Avg loan size

$17,962

Avg interest rate

6.2%

Citizen's Bank

Based on 32 loans
Avg loan size

$28,102

Avg interest rate

6.9%

Sallie Mae

Based on 284 loans
Avg loan size

$21,709

Avg interest rate

7.8%

Discover

Based on 84 loans
Avg loan size

$20,752

Avg interest rate

8.0%

Methodology
Insights based on 9222 students|Last update: May 26, 2020 10:02 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 9222 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 9222-person data set to generate the analysis seen in this report.

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