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the average student loan debt in the united states

Average Student Loan Debt In The US [2019]

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It seems everyone is talking about the issue with the student loan debt crisis in the United States. The hot topics are how difficult it is to not only get a college degree but how much debt a student will take on to get this education. With all the hype, how much average student loan debt is there in the United States?

5 Shocking Facts About Student Loan Debt

As we uncover some of the student loan problems, let’s look at some of the more shocking general facts about the student loan debt in the United States.

1. The Total Outstanding Student Loan Debt Is 1.48 Trillion

While this number is much too large to comprehend, I can report some good news. The outstanding student loan debt is slowly decreasing. It has shrunk to 1.48 trillion after being at 1.49 trillion earlier this year.

In other words, students have paid off one billion dollars so far this year on their outstanding student loans. Unfortunately, we still have 1,048 more “billions” until we clear up our student loan debt.

To make things worse, two years ago in 2017, the student loan debt was “only” 1.34 trillion.

2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Is Almost A Myth

Many students graduate and get into public service or public safety jobs with the promise of having their loans forgiven after 10 years. In reality, a very small percentage of these students ever have their loans forgiven.

According to the United States Government Accountability Office, the latest statistics show that 19,321 students have submitted applications to have their loans forgiven. That means 19,321 students were under the impression that their loans would be forgiven after 10 years of public service.

Reality: Only 55 of those applications were approved, or 0.28%.

The reason for this incredibly small percentage of loan forgiveness is the fine print associated with the program. There are so many hoops to jump through and qualifications to meet, most students who thought they qualified for the program do not.

3. Three Million Seniors Still Have Student Loan Debt

seniors still have student loan debt

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, over three million seniors over the age of 60 are still paying off their student loans.

This is a dire statistic for those who are facing large student loan debts. Unfortunately, many seniors feel like they will be paying on their student loans until they die. A grim prospect for those who are supposed to be enjoying their “golden years.”

4. The Cost Of A Degree Increased By 212% Over The Last 40 Years

Acording to an article in Forbes, the price of college is increasing almost eight times faster than wages. The average cost of tuition for public universities increased from $3,190 to $9,970 since 1980. Private universities have also seen a similar increase over the past 40 years. Private school tuition has increased from $15,160 to $34,740. 

Wages on the other hand have increased but only by 0.3% annually on average. Far short of the increase in college tuition.

5. Americans Owe More In Student Loans Than Credit Card Debt

It’s true, American owe about $521 billion more on student loans than they do on credit card debt. With all the hype about cutting up credit cards, there should absolutely be more attention given to ways to obtain secondary education at a cheaper rate.

The Average Student Loan Debt In 2019

The average American who has student loan debt owes approximately $31,172. The total amount of debt for each person is greately influenced by the type of degree held and how many years of college they attended.  

With this staggering number, comes another shocking statistic. More than 1 in 4 Americans are currently burdened by student loan debt!

The Average Student Loan Debt By Age And Generation

This section breaks down the average outstanding student loan debt by age.

Average Student Loan Balance: $31,172

Average Student Loan Balance: $33,579

Average Student Loan Balance: $39,802

Average Student Loan Balance: $36,246

Average Student Loan Balance: $26,341


average student loan debt by age

The Average Student Loan Monthly Payment

According to Nitro College, the average student loan monthly payment is $393 dollars.

The Average Student Debt Amount By Degree

A policy brief from the New American Education Policy Program conducted a study of graduate student borrowing habits and balances. A detailed review of their study is found below. Open the accordion below to see how much the average student is in debt upon graduation.

The following degrees are examined:

-Medicine and Health Sciences

-Law

-Master Of Arts

-Master Of Education

-Master Of Science

-Master Of Business Administration

Average outstanding student debt for Medicine and Health Sciences degrees: $161,772.

Average outstanding student debt for Law degrees: $140,616.

Average outstanding student debt for Master of Arts degrees: $58,539.

Average outstanding student debt for Master of Education degrees: $50,879.

Average outstanding student debt for Master of Science degrees: $50,400.

Average outstanding student debt for Master of Business Administration degrees: $42,000.


combined undergraduate and graduate debt levels:
medicine and health sciences: $161,772
law: $140,616
master of arts: $58,539
master of education: $50,879
master of science: $50,400
master of business administration: $42,000

How Long Does It Take The Average Person To Pay Off Their Student Loans?

According to a research study conducted by One Wisconsin Institute, it takes an average of 21.1 years for students to pay off their student loan debt.

A related 2017 study by the National Center for Education Statistic took a deeper look into the repayment of student loans. They found that those who obtained degrees were more likely to pay off their student loans than those who dropped out of college.

This student found that 36% of students who graduated with a degree were able to pay off their student loans in a period of 12 years. In contrast, only 18.7% of those who dropped out were able to pay off their student loans after 12 years.

Will I Ever Be Able To Get Out Of My Student Loan Debt?

While the situation of our student loan debt in the United States seems dire, there are several ways you can beat the statistics and rid yourself of your student loan debt.

Free Student Loan Debt Calculator (Repayment)

To gain further insight into your student loan debt situation, enter your current financial information below to see how you stack up.

How Can I Pay Off My Student Loans Faster?

Paying off your student loans as soon as possible is a dream many Americans have. Fortunately, paying off your student loans is a real possibility if you set yourself up with the proper plan. The best way to pay off your debt is to make the minimum payments on everything else except for the one debt you are attacking.

There are two different schools of thought on the best way to attack your debts. I wrote an in-depth article about these two methods, namely the Debt Snowball and the Debt Avalanche method.

Check out the link above to find out which method is right for you and how you can take control of your student loan debt once and for all.

What Happens If You Never Pay Your Student Loans

The thought of ignoring your student loans may have floated through your head once or twice especially considering the monumental debts some people have. Unfortunately, people who ignore their student loans and refuse to pay them usually face serious consequences.

Some of the consequences if you choose to ignore your student loan debt include:

  • Your balance will continue to grow rapidly as it compounds with interest and late fees.
  • Your student loan balance may be moved to a collection agency.
  • Your credit score will be substantially lowered which can impact your ability to:
    • Get a mortgage
    • Rent an apartment
    • Obtain a vehicle loan
    • Obtain a line of credit
  • If you have a Federal student loan, the government can take your tax refund or garnish your wages up to 15%.

As you can see, ignoring your student loans can significantly impact your ability to function in society. Additionally, if you have a job with a steady income, the government can garnish your wages and there’s not much you can do about it.

Can I Go To Jail For Not Paying Student Loans?

If there is any positive in not paying your student loans, it’s the fact that you can not be arrested for failing to pay your student loan debt. Failing to pay this debt is classified as a civil offense which does not constitute a crime.

Get Out Of Debt And Take Control Of Your Future

Even with all the shocking statistics, I want you to understand that you can get out of your student loan debt. Follow these steps to get out of your student loans:

Wrapping It Up, General FAQ

What is the total outstanding student loan debt in 2019?

The total outstanding student loan debt in 2019 is 1.48 trillion.

What is the average student loan debt age 21 – 34?

Average Student Loan Balance: $33,579

What is the average student loan debt age 35 – 49?

Average Student Loan Balance: $39,802

What is the average student loan debt age 50 – 70?

Average Student Loan Balance: $36,246

What is the average student loan debt age 70+?


Average Student Loan Balance: $26,341

What is the average student loan monthly payment?

According to Nitro College, the average student loan monthly payment is $393 dollars.

How long does it take the average person to pay off their student loans?

According to a research study conducted by One Wisconsin Institute, it takes an average of 21.1 years for students to pay off their student loan debt.

Can I go to jail if I don’t pay my student loans?

No. Failing to pay off student loans is classified as a civil offense which does not constitute a crime.

average student loan debt in the united states

About The Author

Visit The Authors Website | Other Posts

Ryan Luke is a father of three, a husband, finance blogger, and full-time police officer. Through proper budgeting and money management, they have been able to live off one income and build wealth at the same time. As an active member of the personal finance community, his goal is to educate and help people get out of debt and build wealth!

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