A Look at the Shocking Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2017


It’s 2017 and Americans are more burdened by student loan debt than ever.

You’ve probably heard the statistics: Americans owe nearly $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44 million borrowers. In fact, the average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt, up six percent from last year.

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.

General student loan debt facts

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

  • $1.26 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt
  • 44.2 million Americans with student loan debt
  • Student loan delinquency rate of 11.1%
  • Average monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $351
  • Median monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $203

(Data via newyorkfed.org here and here and clevelandfed.org here)

Federal student loan portfolio (updated for Q3, 2016)

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 – $911.6 billion; 30.5 million borrowers
  • FFEL Loans – $342.6 billion; 16.8 million borrowers.
  • Perkins Loans – $8.0 billion; 2.7 million borrowers.

Student loan debt statistics by loan type:

  • Stafford Subsidized – $266.7 billion; 28.9 million borrowers
  • Stafford Unsubsidized – $423.5 billion; 27.1 million borrowers
  • Stafford combined – $690.3 billion; 31.9 million unique recipients
  • Grad PLUS – $50.2 billion; 1.0 million borrowers
  • Parent PLUS – $74.5 billion; 3.3 million borrowers
  • Perkins – $8.0 billion; 2.7 million borrowers
  • Consolidation – $439.2 billion; 12.0 million borrowers

(Data via Studentaid.ed.gov)

Student debt statistics by loan status (Direct Loan Program)

  • Loans in repayment – $468.1 billion; 15.7 million borrowers
  • Loans in deferment – $101.7 billion; 3.4 million borrowers
  • Loans in forbearance – $102.8 billion; 2.7 million borrowers
  • Loans in default – $63.2 billion; 3.9 million borrowers
  • Loans in grace period – $42.6 billion; 1.7 million borrowers

Student loan statistics by repayment plan (Direct Loan Program)

  • Level Repayment Plan, 10 years or less – $197.8 billion; 11.26 million borrowers
  • Level Repayment Plan, greater than 10 years – $72.6 billion; 1.65 million borrowers
  • Graduated repayment plan, 10 years or less – $69.2 billion; 2.68 million borrowers
  • Graduated repayment plan, greater than 10 years – $12.8 billion; 0.28 million borrowers
  • Income-Contingent (ICR) – $23.5 billion; 0.60 million borrowers
  • Income-Based (IBR) – $174.3 billion; 3.10 million borrowers
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE) – $44.3 billion; 1.00 million borrowers
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) – $26.9 billion; 0.57 million borrowers

Student loan debt by servicer (as of June 30, 2016)



Public Service Loan Forgiveness

As of Q2, 2016

PSLF Borrowers: 431,853*

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

Note that borrowers are self-identified based on submission of an ECF.

Source: FedLoan Servicing 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.

In 2012, 71 percent of students graduating from four-year colleges had student loan debt:

  • Represents 1.3 million students graduating with debt, increase from 1.1 million in 2008
  • 66 percent of graduates from public colleges had loans (average debt of $25,550)
  • 75 percent of graduates from private nonprofit colleges had loans (average debt of $32,300)
  • 88 percent of graduates from for-profit colleges had loans (average debt of $39,950)

Twenty percent of 2012 graduate loans were private

Graduates who received Pell Grants were likely to borrow, and borrow more:

  • 88 percent of graduates who received Pell Grants had student loans in 2012, with an average balance of $31,200
  • 53 percent of those who didn’t receive a Pell Grant had student loan debt and borrowed $4,750 less ($26,450)

(Data via Ticas.org)

Private student loan debt statistics

  • Private student loan debt is on the rise; $6.2 billion was borrowed in 2012-2013, up from $5.5 billion in 2011-2012
  • From 2011-2012, borrowers didn’t take advantage of federal student loans as much as they could have: 19 percent didn’t take out Stafford loans, 8 percent didn’t apply for federal financial aid, 11 percent applied for federal aid but didn’t take out a Stafford loan, 28 percent had Stafford loans but borrowed less than they were eligible for
  • In 2011-2012, 48 percent of private loan borrowers attended schools that had tuition costs of $10,000 or less
  • Nearly 1.4 million undergraduates borrowed private loans in 2011-2012

(Data via Ticas.org)

Graduate student loan debt

About 40 percent of the $1 trillion student loan debt was used to finance graduate and professional degrees.

Combined undergraduate and graduate debt by degree:

  • MBA = $42,000 (11% of graduate degrees)
  • Master of Education = $50,879 (16%)
  • Master of Science = $50,400 (18%)
  • Master of Arts = $58,539 (8%)
  • Law = $140,616 (4%)
  • Medicine and health sciences = $161,772 (5%)

Clearly, as these student loan debt statistics show, the cost of attending college is becoming a growing burden for a huge portion of Americans.

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

(Data via 2012 Newamerica.org study)

For press inquiries, please contact press@studentloanhero.com.

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