A Look at the Shocking Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2022

student-loan-debt-statistics

Updated: April 6, 2022

In 2022, Americans continue to be burdened by student loan debt.

Among the class of 2020, 55% of bachelor’s degree recipients took out student loans, graduating with an average of $28,400 in federal and private debt. And 14% of parents with students in the class of 2019 — the latest data available — took out an average of $37,200 in federal parent PLUS loans.

But there are more scary student loan debt statistics. Americans owe nearly $1.75 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 46 million borrowers. That’s about $440 billion more than the total U.S. auto loan debt.

This page takes a look at the latest student loan debt statistics. Eligible borrowers looking to take more control could consider student loan refinancing as long as they think through any downsides.

(Data via the Federal Reserve, CollegeBoard and Saving for College)

Student loan debt statistics

Let’s start with a general picture of the student loan landscape. The most recent data highlights:

  • Nearly $1.75 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt.
  • About 46 million Americans have student loan debt (45.4 million of whom have federal debt).
  • 11.1% of student loans were 90 days or more delinquent or were in default before the coronavirus pandemic (defaults were halted as part of the crisis relief measures).
  • The average monthly student loan payment was $300 before the White House instituted the repayment moratorium (the suspension is in place through Aug. 31, 2022).

(Data via the Federal Reserve, CollegeBoard, Federal Reserve Bank of New York and LendingTree)

Public Service Loan Forgiveness statistics

(As of the latest available data from September 2021)

  • PSLF borrowers: 1,318,076*
  • Borrowers who submitted forgiveness applications: 535,940 (versus 179,371 as of September 2020)
  • Borrowers who were granted PSLF: 10,776 (versus 3,469 as of September 2020)
  • Average balance forgiven: $94,907 (versus $75,090 as of September 2020)

* Total number of borrowers who have one or more approved PSLF employment certification forms

(Note: Borrowers are self-identified based on certification form submissions. Source: Federal Student Aid.)

Federal student loan portfolio

(Updated for September 2021)

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 $1.38 trillion 37.0 million borrowers
FFEL loans $230.4 billion 10.2 million borrowers
Perkins loans $4.4 billion 1.5 million borrowers
Total (all federal) $1.61 trillion 43.4 million unduplicated borrowers

STUDENT LOAN DEBT STATISTICS BY LOAN TYPE

Stafford subsidized $291.5 billion 30.0 million borrowers
Stafford unsubsidized $563.5 billion 30.0 million borrowers
Stafford combined $855.0 billion 34.2 million unique recipients
Grad PLUS $90.7 billion 1.6 million borrowers
Parent PLUS $105.4 billion 3.7 million borrowers
Perkins $4.4 billion 1.5 million borrowers
Consolidation $555.1 billion 11.3 million borrowers

STUDENT LOAN DEBT STATISTICS BY LOAN STATUS (DIRECT LOAN PROGRAM)

Loans in repayment $16.2 billion 0.5 million borrowers
Loans in deferment $112.9 billion 3.1 million borrowers
Loans in forbearance $967.7 billion 24.0 million borrowers
Loans in default $112.3 billion 5.1 million borrowers
Loans in grace period $40.8 billion 1.6 million borrowers

STUDENT LOAN STATISTICS BY REPAYMENT PLAN (DIRECT LOAN PROGRAM)

Level repayment plan
(10 years or less)
$201.6 billion 10.5 million borrowers
Level repayment plan
(greater than 10 years)
$75.6 billion 1.7 million borrowers
Graduated repayment plan
(10 years or less)
$90.6 billion 3.1 million borrowers
Graduated repayment plan
(greater than 10 years)
$16.9 billion 340,000 borrowers
Income-contingent (ICR) $37.4 billion 770,000 borrowers
Income-based (IBR) $172.8 billion 2.8 million borrowers
Pay As You Earn (PAYE) $111.7 billion 1.5 million borrowers
Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) $199.7 billion 3.3 million borrowers
Alternative $47.5 billion 1.4 million borrowers

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 $10.0 0.26 $33.2 0.82 $346.6 6.83 $23.0 1.06 $8.6 0.31
Great Lakes $1.6 0.04 $23.3 0.70 $218.9 6.01 $25.1 1.35 $8.4 0.31
Nelnet $0.1 0.03 $20.4 0.56 $163.2 4.54 $17.6 0.95 $7.2 0.24
Navient $3.4 0.13 $17.6 0.46 $198.0 4.74 $12.7 0.61 $5.0 0.18
Nonprofit servicers $0.8 0.04 $20.8 0.77 $79.4 3.70 $39.9 2.70 $12.6 0.62

(Data via Federal Student Aid)

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:

  • 55% of bachelor’s degree recipients graduating from four-year public and private nonprofit colleges in 2020 had student loan debt.
  • The average debt at graduation from four-year public and private nonprofit colleges was $28,400 in 2020, a $400 decrease from 2019.
  • 66% of graduates from public colleges had loans (borrowing an average of $26,900), according to 2016 data from an April 2019 report — the latest available.
  • 68% of graduates from private, nonprofit colleges had loans in 2016 (borrowing an average of $31,450).
  • 83% of graduates from for-profit colleges had loans in 2016 (borrowing an average of $39,900).
  • Students and parents borrowed an estimated $95.9 billion in the 2020-2021 academic year, and 13% of that were private and other non-federal loans.
  • 48% of borrowers who attended for-profit colleges default within 12 years, compared with 12% of public college attendees and 14% of nonprofit college attendees.

(Data via CollegeBoard and the Institute for College Access and Success — here and here)

Private student loan debt statistics

  • Americans owe more than $136 billion to private student lenders.
  • Private student loan debt volume hit an estimated $12 billion in the 2020-2021 academic year.
  • 90% of undergraduate and 63% of graduate private loans were cosigned by someone else during the 2020-2021 academic year.
  • More than half of undergraduates (53%) don’t take full advantage of federal student loans, borrowing private loans before they’ve exhausted their available federal loans.
  • 16% of student loans for the class of 2019 were private.
  • Interest rates for cosigned private loans averaged 10.20% in 2019.

(Data via the Institute for College Access and Success (here and here), CollegeBoard, and MeasureOne)

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

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