Average Student Loan Debt By State In 2022

student debt and forgiveness by state

In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, the federal government took swift action to help Americans who were hurting economically. The CARES Act included a temporary pause on all Federal student loan payments.

Though the measure was intended to be a form of short-term relief, the temporary measure paved the way for sweeping changes. 

By late 2020, 60% of student loan borrowers were receiving some form of assistance on their student loans.2 Since that time, the moratorium on student loan payments has been extended until Dec. 31, 2022, and the Biden-Harris Administration announced the nation’s first one-time loan forgiveness program

The administration also announced potential changes to the way income-driven repayment programs are structured. This means loan balances would not increase as long as an individual was on a loan repayment program.

Nationwide Student Loan Fast Facts

The descriptive statistics below reflect the state of student loan borrowers across the United States in 2021. In 2021, debt delinquency and default fell, but overall debt loads continued to rise.

  • Number of Borrowers: 43 million
  • Median Debt Balance: $18,767
  • Number of Borrowers with delinquent or defaulted loans: 3.3 million (7.5% of all borrowers)
  • Number of borrowers that saw their debt decrease in 2021: 11.5 million (26.6% of all borrowers)
  • Percentage of student loan borrowers who have paid off their debt: 49%
  • Estimated number of borrowers eligible for loan forgiveness: 38.6 million

Note, given the pandemic and all federal student loan payments being paused, the average student loan payment data is skewed. You can see the past average student loan payment and average student loan debt by graduating class here.

Although debt levels continue to rise, some student loan borrowers are seeing their debt loads fall. Nearly half (49%) of all borrowers who took out loans to pay for their education have paid the loans off in full. 

Among current borrowers, 26.6% saw their debt loads shrink in 2021. Additionally, the vast majority of all current borrowers will be eligible for some amount of student loan forgiveness under the Biden-Harris Student Debt Relief Plan.

infographic student loan debt by state

Student Loans By State Fast Facts

While the nationwide debt statistics paint a concerning picture, the actual debt loads vary significantly from state to state. In these fast facts, we highlight both average and median debt loads by state. 

Typically, commentators talk about median debt loads because half the borrowers have higher debt loads and half have lower. 

But in some cases, seeing both average and median debt levels is instructive. While the median shows the midway point of borrowers, the average better illustrates how high-debt borrowers are influencing overall debt loads in the state.

  • Most borrowers: California (4.1 million)
  • Fewest borrowers: Wyoming (57,600)
  • Lowest Average Balance: South Dakota ($28,218)
  • Lowest Median Balance: Wyoming ($14,634)
  • Highest Average Balance: Maryland ($42,543)*
  • Highest Median Balance: Georgia ($21,965)
  • Smallest Gap Between Median and Average Balance: South Dakota (Median Debt Load is $15,865 while the average is $28,218 for a gap of $12,353)
  • Largest Gap Between Median and Average Balance: Maryland (Median Debt Load is $42,543 while the average is $21,779 for a gap of $20,764) and California  (Median Debt Load is $37,783 while the average is $17,019 for a gap of $20,764)
  • Lowest Delinquency Rate: New Hampshire (4.8%)
  • Highest Delinquency Rate: West Virginia (11%)

*Washington D.C. is a district rather than a state, but its average student loan balance is a whopping $53,769 and its median student debt load is $26,530.

The Expected Impact Of Debt Forgiveness Plan

Right now, debt loads are at all-time highs, but the forthcoming debt forgiveness plan is expected to lead to billions of dollars of debt relief. Individual borrowers are receiving forgiveness ranging from $10,000 for borrowers who didn’t receive Pell Grants to $20,000 for those who received Pell Grants.

To show the impact of this program, we estimated the proportion of estimated borrowers who are eligible for student loan forgiveness. To do this, we divided the estimated number of eligible borrowers from the Biden-Harris Administrations White House Statement, by the 2021 number of borrowers for The Federal Reserve Bank Of New York’s detailed student loan report. 

  • Highest Number of Borrowers Eligible For Loan Forgiveness: California (3.5 million)
  • Lowest Number of Borrowers Eligible For Loan Forgiveness: Wyoming (31,400)
  • Highest Proportion of Borrowers Eligible For Loan Forgiveness: Mississippi and New Mexico (100%)
  • Lowest Proportion of Borrowers Eligible For Loan Forgiveness: North Dakota (71.93%)
  • Highest Proportion of Borrowers Eligible For $20,000 In Loan Forgiveness: Mississippi (76.4%)
  • Lowest Proportion of Borrowers Eligible For $20,000 In Loan Forgiveness: Massachusetts (38.3%)

Student Loan Debt By State Breakdown

You can see a state by state breakdown of the student loan debt situation below.

State

Total Borrowers

Average Debt

Median Debt

Percent 

Delinquent

Borrowers Eligible For Biden Loan Forgiveness

Borrowers Eligible For $20k Loan Forgiveness

Alabama

615,800

$37,730

$19,718

9.5%

588,000

404,900

Alaska

70,600

$30,427

$15,106

6.9%

60,500

37,300

Arizona

872,600

$36,682

$17,818

8.7%

810,800

554,900

Arkansas

374,900

$31,851

$17,303

9.0%

365,600

269,000

California

4,021,200

$37,783

$17,019

7.1%

3,549,300

2,340,600

Colorado

804,300

$37,235

$19,535

7.0%

698,100

419,000

Connecticut

542,800

$36,391

$19,561

6.3%

454,200

238,200

Deleware

137,300

$39,238

$19,636

6.8%

116,900

68,000

District of Columbia

125,000

$53,769

$26,530

7.8%

105,600

60,300

Florida

2,646,400

$38,653

$19,246

8.2%

2,427,600

1,716,300

Georgia

1,641,600

$41,826

$21,965

9.4%

1,506,100

1,039,100

Hawaii

123,600

$34,608

$17,709

7.7%

111,500

65,700

Idaho

219,400

$34,196

$18,339

6.5%

201,400

144,900

Illinois

1,713,900

$37,869

$19,391

6.7%

1,486,600

863,600

Indiana

924,000

$32,045

$17,642

9.4%

856,400

555,500

Iowa

465,500

$29,845

$16,750

7.6%

408,700

248,900

Kansas

395,200

$33,954

$18,670

7.7%

360,900

225,500

Kentucky

588,800

$33,155

$18,219

10.0%

563,300

394,000

Louisiana

644,600

$34,839

$17,588

9.3%

608,100

435,200

Maine

203,200

$33,584

$17,654

5.9%

175,000

105,300

Maryland

864,700

$42,543

$21,779

6.8%

747,100

419,400

Massachusetts 

1,046,800

$35,400

$18,400

4.9%

813,000

401,200

Michigan

1,430,900

$36,221

$19,412

7.9%

1,316,000

849,300

Minnesota

902,500

$33,161

$18,645

5.8%

729,700

416,300

Mississippi

417,200

$36,366

$17,613

10.7%

417,200

316,400

Missouri

829,100

$35,095

$19,240

8.1%

777,300

502,200

Montana

132,900

$32,459

$16,924

5.6%

120,400

78,600

Nebraska

261,000

$31,551

$17,413

4.8%

232,100

136,000

Nevada

351,300

$35,688

$16,554

9.8%

315,800

216,900

New Hampshire

219,000

$33,094

$17,648

4.8%

175,100

85,300

New Jersey

1,339,800

$37,003

$19,253

5.8%

1,082,900

590,300

New Mexico

215,900

$32,944

$16,923

8.7%

215,900

159,000

New York

2,579,600

$38,668

$19,647

4.9%

2,258,800

1,320,100

North Carolina

1,340,500

$37,511

$20,643

8.0%

1,190,500

785,500

North Dakota

114,000

$30,542

$15,738

5.0%

82,000

49,600

Ohio

1,810,900

$35,806

$20,224

8.2%

1,677,800

1,085,700

Oklahoma

480,800

$32,102

$16,729

9.6%

454,300

321,600

Oregon

556,000

$38,248

$20,525

8.3%

499,000

332,100

Pennsylvania

2,032,400

$35,349

$19,757

7.2%

1,717,300

988,800

Rhode Island

153,200

$33,838

$17,014

6.1%

133,900

75,300

South Carolina

745,500

$36,698

$20,000

9.1%

681,100

458,400

South Dakota

135,600

$28,218

$15,865

5.3%

109,100

65,100

Tennessee

872,000

$36,155

$19,714

9.0%

795,300

542,000

Texas

3,759,300

$32,998

$16,985

8.5%

3,323,200

2,306,700

Utah

325,100

$33,474

$16,260

5.8%

282,700

206,300

Vermont

96,300

$34,595

$18,549

5.0%

72,200

37,100

Virginia

1,143,200

$39,001

$20,996

6.4%

965,100

566,500

Washington

816,900

$34,846

$17,781

6.3%

697,600

423,800

West Virginia

217,200

$32,214

$18,273

11.0%

213,100

145,000

Wisconsin

785,600

$31,482

$17,037

6.0%

685,100

412,700

Wyoming

57,600

$30,581

$14,634

6.6%

49,600

31,400

For reference, borrowers eligible for $20,000 in student loan forgiveness are a sub-set of the borrowers eligible for Biden student loan forgiveness (either $10,000 or $20,000). 

Sources Cited:

Daniel Mangrum, Joelle Scally, and Crystal Wang, “Three Key Facts from the Center for Microeconomic Data’s 2022 Student Loan Update,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics, August 9, 2022, https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2022/08/three-key-facts-from-the-center-for-microeconomic-datas-2022-student-loan-update.

“Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2020 – May 2021”, Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System,  October 7, 2022, https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/2021-economic-well-being-of-us-households-in-2020-student-loans.htm

The United States Government. (2022, September 20). “Fact sheet: The Biden-Harris administration’s plan for student debt relief could benefit tens of millions of borrowers in all fifty states.” October 7, 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/09/20/fact-sheet-the-biden-harris-administrations-plan-for-student-debt-relief-could-benefit-tens-of-millions-of-borrowers-in-all-fifty-states/

Editor: Claire Tak Reviewed by: Robert Farrington

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