Student Loan Coronavirus Data Snapshot: Facts & Figures

 November 17, 2020
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As the U.S. government implements its coronavirus student debt relief plan, here are some underlying figures to help you understand how much such proposals might help.

In the charts below, we’ll focus on federal student loans, as they represent the bulk of outstanding debt. Have a look to gauge the lay of the land as leaders in Washington attempt to deal with the college debt in the era of the coronavirus. (And refer to our student loan statistics report for background data on student debt.)

20 million Americans have an average $276 monthly federal student loan bill

Federal Student Loans by the Numbers
Total Federal Student Debt (Trillions) $1.5
Total Number of Federal Student Loan Borrowers (Millions) 42.8
Number of Federal Student Loan Borrowers (Millions)…
in Repayment 20
in Default 7.7
in Forbearance or Deferment 6.2
in School or Grace 8
in Unemployment or Economic Hardship Deferment 0.32
Who Owe Less Than $10,000 14.9
Who Owe More Than $100,000 2.9
Are Behind on Their Payments 3
Federal Student Loan Balance $33,545
Monthly Federal Student Loan Payment $276
Monthly Student Loan Payment, Private and Federal Student Loans $300
Monthly Interest Accrued per Borrower from Federal Loans $158

Borrowers accrue $158 in interest every month, on average, $5.3 billion altogether

Interest Accrued on Federal Student Loans in 2019
Interest Accrued (Millions) Average per Borrower Accruing Interest
Annually $63,555 $1,897
Monthly $5,296 $158
Note: As of 9/30/19, the end of the DoEd’s fiscal year. Number of borrowers accruing interest include all borrowers in repayment, default, forbearance and deferment at end of fiscal year.

Monthly payments and outstanding balances vary widely across the states

Most borrowers owe less than $20,000, but not in all states

Gen Xers and boomers carry bigger balances than millennials

African-American college grads carry bigger debts than other races and ethnicities

Fewer than half of student borrowers have active monthly payments

85% of borrowers are current on their monthly bills (excluding collections)

Fewer than half of borrowers in repayment are on a 10-year payoff plan

The vast majority Direct loan borrowers in deferment are still in school

Discretionary forbearance is the most common type

Plenty of borrowers – especially parents – use alternative debt to pay for school

How People Financed Education Costs
Own Education Child’s or Grandchild’s Education
Student loan 93% 81%
Credit card 24% 15%
Home equity loan 7% 11%
Other loan 12% 0%


Department of Education data as of December 31, 2019; 2019 Federal Student Aid annual report ; “Trends in Student Aid 2019,” The College Board; anonymized My LendingTree credit reports.

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