A Look at the Shocking Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2020

student-loan-debt-statistics

Updated: Jan. 15, 2020

It’s 2020, and Americans are more burdened by student loan debt than ever.

Among the Class of 2019, 69% of college students took out student loans, and they graduated with an average debt of $29,900, including both private and federal debt. Meanwhile, 14% of their parents took out an average of $37,200 in federal parent PLUS loans.

You’ve probably heard another scary statistic: Americans owe over $1.64 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 45 million borrowers. That’s about $587 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt.

But how does this break down at a more granular level? Are student loans being used to attend public or private universities? Is it mostly from four-year or graduate degrees? What percentage of overall graduates carry debt? Are more grads utilizing private student loan consolidation and refinancing?

Let’s take a look.

(Data provided by Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of research with SavingforCollege.com, as well as by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, unless otherwise specified.)

General student loan debt facts

First, let’s start with a general picture of the student loan landscape. The most recent data indicate there is:

  • $1.64 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt
  • 44.7 million Americans with student loan debt
  • 11.1% of student loans are 90 days or more delinquent or are in default
  • Monthly student loan payment (among those not in deferment) usually range between $200 and $299 on average

(Data via the U.S. Federal Reserve here, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York here.)

Public Service Loan Forgiveness statistics

(As of September 2019 – latest available data)

PSLF borrowers: 1,132,007*

Borrowers who submitted forgiveness applications: 90,962

Borrowers who were granted PSLF: 845

Average balance forgiven: $61,592

* Total number of borrowers who have one or more approved PSLF Employment Certification Forms (ECF)

(Note: Borrowers are self-identified based on submission of an ECF. Source: United States Government Accountability Office, via the Report to Congressional Requesters, and Dept. of Education here.)

Federal student loan portfolio

(Updated for September 2019)

Now let’s dive into how much debt student loan borrowers carry by loan type, term and more.

STUDENT LOAN DEBT STATISTICS BY LOAN PROGRAM:

Direct Loans $1.24 trillion 35.1 million borrowers
FFEL Loans $261.6 billion 12.1 million borrowers
Perkins Loans $6.1 billion 2.0 million borrowers
Total (All Federal) $1.51 trillion 42.9 million borrowers

STUDENT LOAN DEBT STATISTICS BY LOAN TYPE:

Stafford Subsidized $280.7 billion 29.5 million borrowers
Stafford Unsubsidized $516.0 billion 28.9 million borrowers
Stafford combined $796.7 billion 33.2 million unique recipients
Grad PLUS $75.2 billion 1.4 million borrowers
Parent PLUS $96.1 billion 3.6 million borrowers
Perkins $6.1 billion 2.0 million borrowers
Consolidation $536.1 billion 11.7 million borrowers

(Data via Studentaid.ed.gov)

STUDENT DEBT STATISTICS BY LOAN STATUS (DIRECT LOAN PROGRAM)

Loans in repayment $719.2 billion 19.3 million borrowers
Loans in deferment $132.4 billion 3.7 million borrowers
Loans in forbearance $130.2 billion 2.9 million borrowers
Loans in default $161.3 billion 7.6 million borrowers
Loans in grace period $45.2 billion 1.8 million borrowers

(Data via Studentaid.ed.gov)

STUDENT LOAN STATISTICS BY REPAYMENT PLAN (DIRECT LOAN PROGRAM)

Level Repayment Plan
(10 years or less)
$200.7 billion 10.76 million borrowers
Level Repayment Plan
(greater than 10 years)
$77.6 billion 1.70 million borrowers
Graduated repayment plan
(10 years or less)
$90.4 billion 3.12 million borrowers
Graduated repayment plan
(greater than 10 years)
$16.7 billion 340,000 borrowers
Income-Contingent (ICR) $33.6 billion 710,000 borrowers
Income-Based (IBR) $170.4 billion 2.77 million borrowers
Pay As You Earn (PAYE) $96.7 billion 1.39 million borrowers
Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) $168.9 billion 2.9 million borrowers
Alternative $44.9 billion 1.29 million borrowers

(Data via Studentaid.ed.gov)

STUDENT LOAN DEBT BY SERVICER

REPAYMENT DEFERMENT FORBEARANCE IN-SCHOOL GRACE
Outstanding
(billions)
Recipients
(millions)
Outstanding
(billions)
Recipients
(millions)
Outstanding
(billions)
Recipients
(millions)
Outstanding
(billions)
Recipients
(millions)
Outstanding
(billions)
Recipients
(millions)
PHEAA $251.5 5.22 $33.7 0.81 $47.6 0.85 $20.8 0.88 $9.0 0.27
Great Lakes $153.4 4.64 $31.2 0.9 $28.4 0.72 $29.3 1.5 $11.4 0.41
Nelnet $119.5 3.67 $25.1 0.72 $17.6 0.46 $22.4 1.08 $8.3 0.3
Navient $145.3 3.98 $24.5 0.64 $31.7 0.64 $16.7 0.78 $7.3 0.26
Not-for-Profit Servicers $49.4 2.55 $17.9 0.71 $4.8 0.23 $42.5 3.11 $9.2 0.54

(Data via Studentaid.ed.gov)

More shocking student loan debt statistics

If those numbers weren’t stunning enough, here’s a closer look at how students accumulate debt based on the type of school they attend:

  • 69% of seniors graduating with a four-year degree in 2019 had student loan debt.
  • Average debt at graduation from public and nonprofit colleges was $29,900 in 2019, a 2% increase from 2018.
  • 66% of graduates from public colleges had loans as of May 2018 (average debt of $25,550)
  • 75% of graduates from private, nonprofit colleges had loans as of May 2018 (average debt of $32,300)
  • 88% of graduates from for-profit colleges had loans as of May 2018 (average debt of $39,950)
  • Students borrowed an estimated $259 billion for the 2018-2019 academic year, and 5% of that amount was private loans.
  • About 17% of the student debt held by the graduating class of 2018 was private.
  • 48% of borrowers who attended for-profit colleges default within 12 years, compared to 12% of public college attendees, and 14% of nonprofit college attendees.

(Data via TICAS.org here, here, and here, and the College Board here.)

Private student loan debt statistics

  • Private student loan debt volume hit an estimated $13.1 billion in the 2018-2019 academic year.
  • More than half of undergraduates don’t take full advantage of federal students, borrowing private loans before they’ve exhausted their available federal loans
  • In 2015-2016, 39% of private loan borrowers attended schools that had tuition costs of $10,000 or less.
  • 17% of student loans for the class of 2018 were private.
  • Interest rates for private loans ran as high as 14.24% in April 2019.

(Data via Ticas.org here and here)

Clearly, as these student loan debt statistics show, the cost of attending college can be a heavy burden for a huge portion of Americans.

What are you doing to pay off your debt and ensure you don’t become another statistic? Be sure to let us know how we can help.

Save these statistics for yourself

For press inquiries, please contact [email protected].

Interested in refinancing your student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
LenderVariable APRAverage Savings 
1.99% – 5.64%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.89% – 5.90%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

2.25% – 6.28%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.89% – 6.77%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

2.39% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

1.99% – 5.61%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of July 31, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 7/31/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.28% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.28% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.25% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.18% plus 2.32% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. 

4 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of September 10, 2020.


5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. ‍All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.16% effective Sep 1, 2020 and may increase after consummation.

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.