Bold.org
Student Loan
Research Report

Up-to-date insights on student debt in the US, based on loans reported by more than 12726 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 12726 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 4515 students|Last update: July 3, 2020 08:37 PM GMT

Average debt for
Women vs. Men

Across our entire dataset, women carry 12% 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 (5.4% vs. 5.5%).

Which Ethnicities Have More Student Debt?
Insights based on 3486 students|Last update: July 3, 2020 08:37 PM GMT

Average debt by Ethnicity

Based on data from Bold.org members, Black/African and Caucasian students carry the highest student debt, at $23,570 and $23,267 respectively.

Average Interest Rate by Ethnicity

While interest rate patterns are similar across most ethnicities, Asian students stand out as an outlier, paying 6.0% interest on their student loans on average.

That's a 12.1% higher rate than the next highest group!

Which States Have the Most Student Debt?
Insights based on 2849 students|Last update: July 3, 2020 08:37 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
Alabama5.8%$24,831
Arkansas5.4%$37,416
Arizona5.1%$25,259
California5.5%$25,053
Colorado5.6%$24,254
Connecticut4.7%$30,054
Florida5.7%$22,729
Georgia5.7%$21,467
Hawaii5.6%$28,851
Iowa4.2%$30,209
Idaho5.0%$23,488
Illinois5.9%$24,468
Indiana5.9%$21,721
Kansas4.8%$16,034
Kentucky5.6%$32,099
Louisiana5.0%$16,814
Massachusetts5.5%$27,997
Maryland4.3%$18,618
Maine5.9%$33,064
Michigan5.6%$21,701
Minnesota5.7%$26,874
Missouri5.1%$21,975
Mississippi5.7%$40,284
North Carolina5.3%$24,409
Nebraska5.6%$12,317
New Hampshire5.3%$30,790
New Jersey5.3%$30,252
Nevada4.8%$31,573
New York5.6%$32,132
Ohio5.4%$20,762
Oklahoma4.4%$16,111
Oregon6.1%$33,973
Pennsylvania6.0%$35,811
South Carolina5.4%$27,844
Tennessee5.6%$20,048
Texas5.2%$18,171
Utah4.8%$17,708
Virginia5.6%$23,365
Washington5.2%$24,386
Wisconsin5.5%$17,085
West Virginia4.4%$14,615
$26,048
Average tuition amount
Insights based on 12726 students|Last update: July 3, 2020 08:37 PM GMT
How Tuition Gets Paid
Insights based on 8675 students|Last update: July 3, 2020 08:37 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 2789 students|Last update: July 3, 2020 08:37 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 22% 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 2569 students|Last update: July 3, 2020 08:37 PM GMT

Mohela

Based on 109 loans
Avg loan size

$15,891

Avg interest rate

4.5%

The Federal Government

Based on 1099 loans
Avg loan size

$13,144

Avg interest rate

4.6%

Navient

Based on 217 loans
Avg loan size

$25,308

Avg interest rate

4.9%

Great Lakes

Based on 103 loans
Avg loan size

$32,678

Avg interest rate

5.0%

Nelnet

Based on 284 loans
Avg loan size

$23,332

Avg interest rate

5.3%

Wells Fargo

Based on 99 loans
Avg loan size

$20,997

Avg interest rate

6.2%

Studentloan.com

Based on 51 loans
Avg loan size

$12,333

Avg interest rate

6.2%

Citizen's Bank

Based on 42 loans
Avg loan size

$30,581

Avg interest rate

7.4%

Sallie Mae

Based on 439 loans
Avg loan size

$21,315

Avg interest rate

7.8%

Discover

Based on 126 loans
Avg loan size

$20,987

Avg interest rate

8.3%

Methodology
Insights based on 12726 students|Last update: July 3, 2020 08:37 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 12726 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 12726-person data set to generate the analysis seen in this report.

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