21 Facts About College Debt

Higher studies are getting expensive day by day. Especially college studies have gotten very expensive in the last ten years.

The amount of student loan debt in the USA continues to grow to over $1.7 trillion, collectively owned by 45 million Americans. 


While investing in college studies has tons of economic benefits, the overwhelming amount of debt can impose a substantial financial burden on the students, such as affecting their ability to buy a new house and delaying major life decisions such as getting married and starting a family and retirement. 

In this article, we’ll discuss some exciting facts about college debt to help you make a more informed decision regarding paying off your college debt.

All the information given below is based on the data from the Federal Reserve and the U.S Department of Education and is updated regularly. 

Let’s dive right in and see the Top 20 Facts About College Debt.

Read: College Student Loan Debt Statistics

Read: Price Tag Of A College Education

20 Facts About College Debt

Here are some shocking college debt facts that you should know:

1. Adults Today Have A Much Higher Burden Of Student Debt 

Today, adults face a much higher student debt burden than they have a few years back.

The average amount of household debt has increased considerably over the past several years, which has been the major factor that has contributed to the growth of the average outstanding student debt, which has increased four-fold from 1989 to 2019, causing an increase in the amount of debt carried by the average student. 

2. College Loan Debt Is Now More Than $1.7 Trillion 

The latest college loan debt statistics for 2022 show that the outstanding college debt has grown from $845 billion to $1.7 trillion from 2010 to 2022.

Since the great recession, the federal student debt in America has increased by 144%, and the number of borrowers has increased from 28 million to 43 million.

The number of students attending college tuition in both states at public and private universities has increased by 72% between 2008 to 2021.

3. Graduate School Borrowing Accounts For Most Of The College Debt

The typical borrowing levels for graduate students rose significantly over a couple of decades.

A large majority of students who have graduated with a bachelor’s degree are still in debt, with an average student owing $28,950 in debt.

4. College Debt Has Been On The Rise During The Last Decade 

In America, every person is in debt, but the most common type of debt is student or college debt.

College debt has been on the rise in the last decade as families try to keep up with the sky-rocketing college fees.

As per data reported by U.S News, College graduates from the class of 2020 borrowed $29,927 on average, which is more than the class of 2010.

5. Rates Of Borrowing Vary Greatly Across Racial And Ethnic Groups 

The amount and rates of college debt vary greatly across different racial and ethnic groups.

On average, 70% of the Hispanic and 86% of the black students graduating with a bachelor’s degree took out student loans compared to 68% of the white and 44% of the Asian graduates.

The black students borrowed $39,500, the highest compared to $29,900 for white, $28,220 for Hispanic borrowers, and $26,500 for Asian borrowers. 

6. College Debt Is Growing Faster Than Other Types Of Debts 

Since 2004, college debt has become the fastest-growing household debt, surpassing credit card debt and auto loans in 2010.

The number of students enrolled in college increased by 36% between 1995 to 2017.

One of the main reasons behind the insane growth of student debt is that more students are going to college and taking out loans.

7. 2 In Every 5 College Loan Borrowers Are Delinquent 

About 42 million Americans are under some kind of student loan, and every 2 out of 5 students are delinquent at some point during the first five years of entering loan repayment, according to data from the survey conducted by U.S News.

8. Only 6% Of The Borrowers Have A Six-figure College Debt

About 75% of the borrowers take loans to go to 2 to 4 years of college and account for half of all outstanding student debt loans.

Despite hearing the horror stories about college graduates with 6-figure loan debt, only 6% of the borrowers owe more than $100,000. 

9. Private Lenders Control 15% Of All Outstanding Student Debt  

Out of $ 1 trillion outstanding student debt held nationwide, private lenders control around 15%.

Although federal student loans are often the most convenient way to borrow, they are not enough to cover all your college costs, and private student loans are the best way to cover all your personal and college expenses.

10. Defaulted Private Loans Are Over $8 Billion 

There is approximately $150 billion in private loan debt, of which more than $8 billion is in defaulted private loans.

Private student loans are considered default if you miss three monthly payments and let your lender know, default on another loan, declare bankruptcy or die.   

11. A Higher Number of College Students Suffer from Health Issues

Students who graduated recently seem to experience more depression and mental issues than those who graduated in 2000 because they are under college loan debt.

Those who completed their degrees in 1990-1999 are doing much better physically, socially, and mentally. 

12. Individuals Who Owe The Most Are Not The Ones Who Default 

There’s a misconception that the individuals with the most college debt are most likely to default on debt.

However, higher default rates are more common for students who graduated from for-profit institutions.

Borrowers with bachelor’s degrees have the lowest default rates despite accounting for half of the all-outstanding college debt.

13. Black Borrowers And Students At For-Profit Colleges Have The Highest Default Rate  

The default rate is highest for black borrowers and students who have attended for-profit colleges.

About 34% of the students at a for-profit college in the 2011-1012 academic year who entered repayment of their federal loans by 2017 defaulted on their loans.

Likewise, black borrowers also have a high default rate of 29%, more than double that of white borrowers. 

14. College Debt Is Considered To Be A Factor In Declining Homeownership Rates

The growing student debt burden has been a major contributing factor in declining homeownership rates for those in their 20s and 30s.

Millennials in their late 20s and early 30s have a home ownership percentage that is 8% lower than the baby boomers and 8.4% lower than Gen Xers.

A study conducted in 2019 found that a $1000 increase in student loan debt leads to a 1 to 2% decline in the homeownership rate among student loan borrowers between ages 25 to 34.

15. Women, Blacks, And Students At For-Profit Owe More Federal College Debt  

According to the U.S Department of Education, women owe about $3,000 or 10% more student debt than men.

While black borrowers owe around $13,000, nearly 50% or more student debt than white borrowers.

16. Type Of College, Enrollment Rate, And Economic Factors Can Affect The Debt Levels

Factors such as the type of college attended, the enrollment rate in the graduate school program, and the economic outcomes after graduation are some of the main factors that can affect student loan debt levels.

Those who attended for-profit or private colleges owed about 50% more than the borrowers who attended non-profit or public schools.

17. President Obama Started College Loan Forgiveness Program

College loan reform has been on the front line during the administration of President Obama at the Federal level.

These are the list of his plans: 

  • They will forgive the remaining student debt after 20 years.
  • If public service employees pay their loans on time, their remaining debt will be forgiven in 10 years. 
  • A new borrower will pay 10% of their income towards outstanding college debt.  

18. U.S Department Of Education Cancelled $5.8 Billion In Student Loans 

The United States Department of Education has canceled around $5.8 billion in outstanding student loans for more than 560,000 borrowers during its administration of Biden.

It is one of the largest single loan forgiveness actions taken by any government to date.

The cancelation applies to all the students who attended schools operated by the defunct Corinthian Colleges. 

19. College Or Student Debt May Have A Big Impact On The Economic Outlook Of Americans

Research conducted by the experts from Federal Reserve suggests that student debt may depress the homeownership rates of young adults.

Another research indicates that college debt may affect the other major aspects of economic growth.

This can cause delaying marriage and family creation, limit retirement funds, and impede the growth of small businesses.

20. Delinquency And Default On the Student Debt Has Serious Consequences 

The U.S Department of Education reports that around 20% of student loan borrowers are in default. At least 270 days without payment, and over a million loans go into default each year.

Failure to pay the student loan on time can have dire consequences for borrowers.

This could include fines, wage garnishment, damage to credit scores, money suspension from income tax funds, and eligibility for other aid programs.

21. One Third Of Adults Aged Under 30 Owe Student Debt

Adults in the age bracket of 18-29, which accounts for 34%, said that they have an outstanding student loan.

This data includes people with loans currently in forbearance or deferment. Among the older age group of 30 to 44, student debt is less common.

Read: Top Student Loan Debt Facts

Read: Golden Financial Services Reviews

Student Loan Debt From 2011-2021

YearTotal Student Loan DebtChange

Student Debt Crisis

College Loan Debt Relief Statistics

College Loan Debt Relief Statistics
  • 74.2% of student borrowers owe $40,000 or less in federal debt, and 32.2% owe $10,000 or less.
  • 31% of Americans are against student debt collection.
  • 56.0% of those who support student loan forgiveness programs have an annual income of less than $50,000, and the rest, 14.3%, make more than $100,000.
  • 55% of Americans are supportive of the cancellation of federal student loans of up to $10,000 per borrower. Rest 47% are supportive of cancellation of $50,000 per borrower.
  • In 2020, 20% of private student loans were in deferment, while 75.3% were in repayment.

Wrapping Up

Student and college debt has risen greatly over the years, and it does not seem to go down in the near future.

Increased interest rates and the income gap are to be blamed for the rise in college debt year after year.


Do students require to start repaying their student loan while still in school?

If you are in school more than half the time, then you do not have to start repaying it right away.

However, some lenders may ask you to start paying your student loan immediately after they take it out.

What is the impact of college debt on students?

Individuals who have student loans have lower credit scores and are more likely to be dependent on their parents.

What makes it difficult to pay off student debt?

The high-interest rate and low income is the main reason why it is difficult to pay off student debt even when the individual is making monthly payments.

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