Bold.org
Student Loan
Research Report

Up-to-date insights on student debt in the US, based on loans reported by more than 169196 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 169196 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 73910 students|Last update: June 22, 2021 09:41 PM GMT

Average debt for
Women vs. Men

Across our entire dataset, women carry 1% 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 67531 students|Last update: June 22, 2021 09:41 PM GMT

Average debt by Ethnicity

Based on data from Bold.org members, Black/African and Caucasian students carry the highest student debt, at $28,013 and $25,219 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 -9.8% higher rate than the next highest group!

Which States Have the Most Student Debt?
Insights based on 50381 students|Last update: June 22, 2021 09:41 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
Alaska4.5%$23,863
Alabama5.3%$25,207
Arkansas4.8%$21,033
Arizona5.0%$27,352
California5.1%$30,534
Colorado5.0%$26,409
Connecticut5.1%$31,650
Delaware5.0%$29,323
Florida5.2%$27,733
Georgia5.1%$25,927
Hawaii5.0%$27,760
Iowa4.8%$26,433
Idaho4.5%$21,673
Illinois5.3%$27,278
Indiana4.8%$25,439
Kansas4.8%$23,327
Kentucky4.8%$22,221
Louisiana5.2%$23,832
Massachusetts5.3%$32,241
Maryland5.2%$30,027
Maine5.0%$29,602
Michigan5.3%$29,230
Minnesota5.0%$25,366
Missouri5.1%$23,706
Mississippi5.6%$26,546
Montana4.6%$24,249
North Carolina5.3%$26,606
North Dakota5.1%$18,786
Nebraska4.6%$23,821
New Hampshire5.1%$30,742
New Jersey5.4%$32,709
New Mexico4.8%$24,408
Nevada5.0%$24,722
New York5.3%$29,969
Ohio5.2%$26,896
Oklahoma5.1%$22,783
Oregon5.0%$26,513
Pennsylvania5.5%$30,304
Rhode Island5.0%$29,574
South Carolina5.2%$22,908
South Dakota4.7%$19,553
Tennessee4.8%$27,062
Texas5.0%$23,704
Utah4.1%$18,969
Virginia5.2%$28,209
Vermont4.8%$26,498
Washington5.0%$26,510
Wisconsin5.1%$24,593
West Virginia4.9%$23,459
Wyoming4.2%$26,039
$23,048
Average tuition amount
Insights based on 169196 students|Last update: June 22, 2021 09:41 PM GMT
How Tuition Gets Paid
Insights based on 121635 students|Last update: June 22, 2021 09:41 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 43051 students|Last update: June 22, 2021 09:41 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 41392 students|Last update: June 22, 2021 09:41 PM GMT

The Federal Government

Based on 15473 loans
Avg loan size

$17,556

Avg interest rate

3.9%

Mohela

Based on 1616 loans
Avg loan size

$14,837

Avg interest rate

4.1%

Great Lakes

Based on 1592 loans
Avg loan size

$26,761

Avg interest rate

4.5%

Great Lakes Borrower Service

Based on 1262 loans
Avg loan size

$26,454

Avg interest rate

4.6%

AES/PHEAA

Based on 1614 loans
Avg loan size

$23,407

Avg interest rate

4.8%

Navient

Based on 4665 loans
Avg loan size

$31,078

Avg interest rate

4.9%

Nelnet

Based on 5228 loans
Avg loan size

$26,002

Avg interest rate

5.0%

Wells Fargo

Based on 969 loans
Avg loan size

$22,251

Avg interest rate

6.7%

Discover

Based on 2009 loans
Avg loan size

$20,856

Avg interest rate

7.6%

Sallie Mae

Based on 6964 loans
Avg loan size

$23,839

Avg interest rate

7.7%

Methodology
Insights based on 169196 students|Last update: June 22, 2021 09:41 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 169196 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 169196-person data set to generate the analysis seen in this report.

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