Bold.org
Student Loan
Research Report

Up-to-date insights on student debt in the US, based on loans reported by more than 94090 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 94090 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 38190 students|Last update: January 21, 2021 03:01 PM GMT

Average debt for
Women vs. Men

Across our entire dataset, women carry 5% 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 (5.2% vs. 5.0%).

Which Ethnicities Have More Student Debt?
Insights based on 34996 students|Last update: January 21, 2021 03:01 PM GMT

Average debt by Ethnicity

Based on data from Bold.org members, Black/African and Caucasian students carry the highest student debt, at $24,871 and $22,544 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 -7.9% higher rate than the next highest group!

Which States Have the Most Student Debt?
Insights based on 25784 students|Last update: January 21, 2021 03:01 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
Alaska4.6%$23,443
Alabama5.1%$21,142
Arkansas5.0%$21,751
Arizona5.0%$23,297
California5.1%$26,799
Colorado5.0%$23,819
Connecticut5.2%$29,783
Delaware5.1%$27,079
Florida5.3%$24,805
Georgia5.1%$23,944
Hawaii5.2%$29,100
Iowa4.8%$23,077
Idaho4.6%$19,060
Illinois5.3%$25,464
Indiana4.8%$24,106
Kansas4.8%$21,701
Kentucky5.1%$20,633
Louisiana5.4%$22,275
Massachusetts5.4%$29,879
Maryland5.3%$27,194
Maine4.9%$28,379
Michigan5.2%$23,931
Minnesota5.1%$22,975
Missouri5.0%$22,347
Mississippi5.4%$24,367
Montana4.5%$20,343
North Carolina5.3%$24,202
North Dakota5.3%$16,414
Nebraska4.7%$21,246
New Hampshire5.3%$29,422
New Jersey5.3%$28,555
New Mexico4.6%$23,293
Nevada4.7%$24,272
New York5.3%$26,838
Ohio5.4%$23,725
Oklahoma5.3%$17,993
Oregon5.2%$24,421
Pennsylvania5.7%$27,776
Rhode Island5.0%$25,143
South Carolina5.1%$20,621
South Dakota4.7%$16,785
Tennessee4.9%$24,080
Texas5.0%$20,965
Utah4.2%$16,006
Virginia5.2%$26,441
Vermont4.7%$26,594
Washington5.0%$24,354
Wisconsin5.1%$19,295
West Virginia5.4%$22,633
Wyoming4.6%$25,514
$22,335
Average tuition amount
Insights based on 94090 students|Last update: January 21, 2021 03:01 PM GMT
How Tuition Gets Paid
Insights based on 68436 students|Last update: January 21, 2021 03:01 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 22477 students|Last update: January 21, 2021 03:01 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 21409 students|Last update: January 21, 2021 03:01 PM GMT

The Federal Government

Based on 8652 loans
Avg loan size

$14,910

Avg interest rate

4.0%

Mohela

Based on 811 loans
Avg loan size

$13,934

Avg interest rate

4.2%

Great Lakes

Based on 899 loans
Avg loan size

$25,754

Avg interest rate

4.6%

AES/PHEAA

Based on 524 loans
Avg loan size

$23,678

Avg interest rate

5.0%

Navient

Based on 2267 loans
Avg loan size

$28,543

Avg interest rate

5.0%

Studentloan.com

Based on 433 loans
Avg loan size

$16,556

Avg interest rate

5.0%

Nelnet

Based on 2569 loans
Avg loan size

$23,678

Avg interest rate

5.1%

Wells Fargo

Based on 594 loans
Avg loan size

$21,468

Avg interest rate

6.7%

Discover

Based on 1033 loans
Avg loan size

$19,999

Avg interest rate

7.6%

Sallie Mae

Based on 3627 loans
Avg loan size

$22,389

Avg interest rate

7.7%

Methodology
Insights based on 94090 students|Last update: January 21, 2021 03:01 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 94090 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 94090-person data set to generate the analysis seen in this report.

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