Pursuing higher education can be a significant benefit as it allows people to increase their knowledge, skills, and a positive economic future. It is both a time and financial investment as students spend years pursuing a degree, and the cost of attending a university is very high.
The United States has some of the most expensive colleges and universities in the world. Many Americans take out federal student loans and repay them once they graduate and enter the workforce to pay for higher education.
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While student loans are the most common way students use to finance their education, it can be an ongoing burden for graduates after completing their degrees. The amount of money borrowed and the percentage of people who borrow and have an outstanding balance varies between states.
States That Have The Highest Student Loan Debts
AdvisorSmith looked at the federal student loan portfolios held by the U.S. Government as reported by the U.S. Department of Education in all 50 states and Washington D.C. This data included the most recent total balance of the student loan portfolio and the number of borrowers in each state.
The study segmented student loan debt into two categories: states with the highest student loan balances and states with the most student loans outstanding.
States With The Highest Student Debt
To see which states had the highest student loan debt, AdvisorSmith took the highest average student loan balances and divided the student loan portfolio in each state by the number of borrowers in each state. Based on the balances, the states were ranked from highest to lowest.
At the end of 2020, the average student loan debt held in the federal student loan portfolio was $36,510 per borrower. There were 42.9 million borrowers, which is approximately 13 percent of the total U.S. population.
Washington DC was the location with the highest student loan debt at $54,982.82. The District of Columbia again was also the location where the largest percentage (16 percent) of the population has an outstanding federal student loan.
States With The Lowest Student Debt
The state with the lowest student loan balance was North Dakota, where the average loan balance is $28,402. North Dakota also came very low for the states with the most student loans outstanding. Only 11 percent of North Dakota people have an outstanding student loan, making the state rank at number 43 on the list.
Hawaii was the state with the least student loans, where only 8 percent of the population has an outstanding federal student loan. The average loan balance in Hawaii is $35,803, and the state ranked number 19 for the highest loan balances.
AdvisorSmith has the loan balances and the percentage of borrowers with loans outstanding for all 50 states in their study.