Bold.org
Student Loan
Research Report

Up-to-date insights on student debt in the US, based on loans reported by more than 125174 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 125174 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 52513 students|Last update: April 9, 2021 07:48 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 (5.1% vs. 5.0%).

Which Ethnicities Have More Student Debt?
Insights based on 48103 students|Last update: April 9, 2021 07:48 AM GMT

Average debt by Ethnicity

Based on data from Bold.org members, Black/African and Caucasian students carry the highest student debt, at $27,035 and $24,189 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 -8.5% higher rate than the next highest group!

Which States Have the Most Student Debt?
Insights based on 35413 students|Last update: April 9, 2021 07:48 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%$23,793
Alabama5.2%$25,369
Arkansas4.8%$21,142
Arizona5.0%$25,752
California5.1%$28,966
Colorado5.0%$25,162
Connecticut5.2%$31,539
Delaware5.0%$27,467
Florida5.2%$26,166
Georgia5.1%$25,209
Hawaii5.0%$28,194
Iowa4.7%$24,035
Idaho4.5%$20,976
Illinois5.2%$26,687
Indiana4.8%$24,355
Kansas4.8%$21,609
Kentucky5.1%$21,247
Louisiana5.3%$23,101
Massachusetts5.5%$31,913
Maryland5.2%$29,203
Maine4.7%$28,794
Michigan5.2%$27,219
Minnesota4.9%$23,514
Missouri5.0%$23,049
Mississippi5.6%$26,929
Montana4.3%$22,765
North Carolina5.2%$25,818
North Dakota5.2%$16,387
Nebraska4.6%$22,681
New Hampshire5.3%$29,837
New Jersey5.5%$31,268
New Mexico4.5%$24,042
Nevada4.9%$25,420
New York5.3%$28,917
Ohio5.3%$25,476
Oklahoma5.2%$20,734
Oregon5.0%$26,448
Pennsylvania5.6%$29,385
Rhode Island5.2%$28,698
South Carolina5.3%$22,180
South Dakota4.6%$18,356
Tennessee4.8%$26,908
Texas5.0%$22,269
Utah4.1%$16,869
Virginia5.3%$28,278
Vermont4.9%$26,702
Washington5.0%$25,716
Wisconsin5.2%$22,056
West Virginia5.1%$21,751
Wyoming4.5%$24,190
$22,669
Average tuition amount
Insights based on 125174 students|Last update: April 9, 2021 07:48 AM GMT
How Tuition Gets Paid
Insights based on 90047 students|Last update: April 9, 2021 07:48 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 30498 students|Last update: April 9, 2021 07:48 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 29% 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 29949 students|Last update: April 9, 2021 07:48 AM GMT

The Federal Government

Based on 12090 loans
Avg loan size

$16,291

Avg interest rate

4.0%

Mohela

Based on 1160 loans
Avg loan size

$14,251

Avg interest rate

4.1%

Great Lakes

Based on 1291 loans
Avg loan size

$26,933

Avg interest rate

4.5%

AES/PHEAA

Based on 836 loans
Avg loan size

$24,235

Avg interest rate

4.9%

Navient

Based on 3221 loans
Avg loan size

$30,093

Avg interest rate

5.0%

Studentloan.com

Based on 557 loans
Avg loan size

$19,341

Avg interest rate

5.0%

Nelnet

Based on 3650 loans
Avg loan size

$25,233

Avg interest rate

5.1%

Wells Fargo

Based on 771 loans
Avg loan size

$21,554

Avg interest rate

6.8%

Discover

Based on 1428 loans
Avg loan size

$20,521

Avg interest rate

7.6%

Sallie Mae

Based on 4945 loans
Avg loan size

$23,332

Avg interest rate

7.8%

Methodology
Insights based on 125174 students|Last update: April 9, 2021 07:48 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 125174 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 125174-person data set to generate the analysis seen in this report.

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