College Affordability

Report: Student Loan Debt Reaches $1.4 Trillion

Student loan debt in the United States has grown 149 percent over the last decade to reach $1.4 trillion, according to a new report from Experian. Over the same period, the average student loan debt per person went up 62 percent.

Held by 13.4 percent of Americans, student loan debt is the fastest growing debt segment and the largest non-household debt. But, counter-intuitively, fewer people make late payments on this type of debt than on other loans. In fact, the percentage of late payments on student debt has decreased 10.1 percent since 2009.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • The average balance on student loans is $34,144;
  • Those with student loans have an average VantageScore 25 points below the average of the general public, at 650 compared to 675;
  • Among those who have student debt, the average number of loans is 3.7 per person, up from 2.4 a decade ago;
  • Members of Generation Y held the most loans on average, at 4.4 per person;
  • Members of Generation X tended to have the largest student loan balance, at an average of $39,802;
  • Members of Generation Z had 77 percent of their loans in deferment, more than any other generation;
  • People who live on the East Coast tended to owe the most on their student loans; and
  • Gainesville, FL was the city with the highest average balance, at $42,400, and Glendive, MT had the lowest average balance, at $20,200.

"Student loan balances are on the rise, which is a result of the increasing cost of higher education. Even with this number moving upward, the data is showing a decrease of delinquencies, which means that consumers are managing their loan payments better than they have in the past," said Michele Raneri, vice president of analytics at Experian, in a prepared statement.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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