7 Insane Student Loan Debt Statistics That Will Blow Your Mind

Do you have student loan debt? If so, you’re not alone. This article will dive into the most surprising student loan debt statistics to show just how wide-spread the impact of student loan debt really is.

1. About 46 Million Americans Have Student Loan Debt [1]

If you graduated college, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if you graduated with student loan debt. If you didn’t graduate with student loan debt, then you probably know someone who did.

46 million Americans have either federal or private student loans, with the overwhelming majority having federal loans. This means that most Americans have student loans that are administered by the federal government.

If you have federal student loans, then you are currently experiencing the student loan freeze on student loan payments that is set to expire on May 1, 2022. Payments are to resume in May of 2022, though it looks like the Biden administration is considering extending this freeze.

If you have private loans, you unfortunately have not been able to benefit from the pause on student loan payments that federal student loan borrowers have. I know people who have a massive amount of student loan debt through a private lender, but because they refinanced their student loan debt prior to Covid and the eventual federal student loan debt pause, they have had to continue making payments all this time.

Those who refinanced to private loans likely did so to get a lower monthly payment or a lower interest rate on their loan – which can make a lot of sense for certain people. It’s unfortunate that the student loan payment freeze doesn’t also exist for those who have private student loans.


2. The Total Student Loan Debt in America is Nearly 1.75 Trillion [1]

It can be tough to conceptualize 1.75 trillion dollars when most of us haven’t even seen a million. But according to one article, it can help to visualize it like this: “1 million seconds is about 11.5 days, 1 billion seconds is about 32 years while a trillion seconds is equal to 32,000 years” [4]. In this example, it’s obvious that a trillion dollars is VERY different than a million dollars.

But it makes sense. The cost of education is rising and more people are unable to afford their college education out-right. Taking out student loans to afford our college education is becoming the norm.


3. The Average Student Loan Monthly Payment is About $393 [2]

When paying off my student loan debt, my monthly payment was $370.59, but I know people who have monthly payments of over $800. And no, they’re not making hundreds of thousands of dollars in income either – which would make making those payments a little bit easier.

I can’t imagine being in your early twenties and having a student loan payment the size of your monthly rent expense – unfortunately, this is the reality for many Americans.

If you’re looking for ways to pay off your student loan debt faster, here are 17 creative ways to pay off your debt.

student loan debt statistics


4. Among The Class of 2020, A 4-Year Bachelor’s Degree Costs on Average $28,400 [1]

In 2020, the average student loan debt for a bachelor’s degree was just under $30k. So, if you are planning on attending a 4-year university and are planning to take out student loans, you can expect your student loan debt to be around this average.

Hopefully you will not have to owe back as much as $30k when you graduate college, but unfortunately, many graduates end up owing much more than this.

I ended up owing just over $60,000 of student loan debt for my 4-year Bachelor’s degree. I studied Computer Information Systems which is basically business and computers. Thankfully, I am using my degree in my career, but there are many people who pay a lot of money for their diploma, to not end up using it at all.

I paid my student loan debt off in 4.5 years, but it wasn’t a walk in the park! You can read more about how I paid off $60,000 of student loan debt here.


5. 6% of Borrowers Owe More Than $100,000 [3]

6% may not seem like a lot of people at face value, but if 46 million borrowers have either private or federal student loans, that means that over 2.75 million U.S. Borrowers graduate with more than $100,000 of student loans.

If you have over $100,000 of student loan debt, one of the best things you can do is increase your income so that you have more money to put toward your debt.

Putting more money toward your debt will help offset the interest that is accruing on your loans. Interest is typically the enemy when it comes to student loans. You can learn more about how interest works here.


6. Nearly 1 in 4 women have over $50,000 of student loan debt [5]

GOBankingRates surveyed more than 1,000 women with student loan debt across America and found that almost 25% of them have over $50,000 of total student loan debt.

Further, only 6.68% of the surveyed population have less than $10,000 of student loan debt. That means the vast majority of those surveyed have more than $10,000 of student loan debt.

This same article states that “It also takes women an average of two years longer to pay off their student loans than their male counterparts, despite making higher payments.” This is largely in part due to the gender pay gap.

Here are the percentages of women within each range of student loan debt based on the survey:

student loan debt statistics

student loan debt statistics


7. Black Women Owe an Average of 13% more than what they started with after 12 years of Repayment [5]

This fact is one of the most gut-wrenching student loan debt statistics. To further explain this statistic, here’s an example. If a black woman graduated college with $30,000 of student loan debt and made payments for 12 years since graduating, according to this statistic, she likely owes $33,900 now. In other words, she’s made payments each month for 12 years to her student loans, only to find that her student loan balance has risen since graduating.

When you dive deeper into the why behind this statistic, it gets a little harder to swallow.

One reason that black women (and women in general) carry more student loan debt and find it harder to pay it back is because, according to the American Association of University Women, “women with bachelor’s degrees who work full time make on average 26% less than their male peers”. So, women get paid less and then therefore have a more difficult time paying back their student loan debt.


Do you have student loan debt? Are you trying to pay it off? Let me know in the comments!


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About Taylor

A few years after graduating college, Taylor made it her mission to become debt free. After paying off all $60k of debt, she began to blog about what she's really passionate about: personal development. Nowadays, Taylor blogs about the topics of Mindset, Money, Health, and Career for women. Read more about Taylor here.

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