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2019 Student Loan Debt Statistics

Student loan borrowers in the U.S. owe a total of $1.6 trillion. College graduates with a bachelor's degree who took on debt left school with an average of $28,650 in student loans in 2017.
May 29, 2019
Loans, Student Loans
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U.S. student loan borrowers owed a collective $1.6 trillion in federal and private student loan debt as of March 2019, according to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Here are key student loan debt statistics to know: How much borrowers owe, the types of loans they have and how they’re repaying them.

Average student loan debt

Sixty-five percent of college seniors in the class of 2017 graduated with student debt, according to the most recent data available from The Institute for College Access & Success. Among them, the average student loan debt was $28,650.

The average U.S. household with student debt owes $47,671, according to cheatgame.info’s 2018 household debt study.

Students who pursue professional degree programs can expect to take on much more. Here’s how the average student loan debt compares for the class of 2018.

Sources: The Institute for College Access and Success, Association of American Medical Colleges, American Dental Education Association, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

» MORE: Student loan payment calculator

Total federal student loan debt

Most student loans — about 92%, according to a December 2018 report by MeasureOne, an academic data firm — are owned by the U.S. Department of Education.

  • Total federal student loan borrowers: 43 million.
  • Total outstanding federal student loan debt: $1.4 trillion.

Source: Federal Student Aid, Q1 2019

» MORE: Student loan affordability calculator

Total private student loan debt

Private student loans make up 7.63% of the total outstanding U.S. student loans, according to MeasureOne.

  • Total outstanding private student loan debt: $119.31 billion.

Source: MeasureOne Private Student Loan Report, Q3 2018

» MORE: Student loan refinance calculator

Student loan repayment status

Federal student loans

If borrowers can’t make payments, they can postpone them through deferment or forbearance. Interest typically accrues during these periods, but borrowers with subsidized loans don’t owe the interest that accrues during deferment.

  • Federal loan borrowers in repayment: 18.6 million.
  • Federal loan borrowers with loans in deferment: 3.4 million.
  • Federal loan borrowers with loans in forbearance: 2.7 million.
  • Federal loan borrowers with loans in default: 5.2 million.

Source: Federal Student Aid, Q1 2019

» MORE: Deferment vs. forbearance

Private student loans

Borrowers can also postpone private student loan payments via deferment or forbearance, but interest always accrues regardless of whether the borrower is making payments.

  • Percentage of outstanding private loan balance in deferment: 18.01%.
  • Percentage of outstanding private loan balance in forbearance: 2.39%.
  • Percentage of private loans in repayment that are 90+ days past due: 1.75%.

Source: MeasureOne Private Student Loan Report, Q3 2018

» MORE: How to get out of student loan default

Income-driven repayment use

Federal income-driven repayment plans cap monthly payments at 10% to 20% of discretionary income and forgive the balance remaining after 20 or 25 years, depending on the plan.

  • Federal loan borrowers on an income-driven repayment plan: 7.37 million.
  • Federal loan borrowers on Income-Based Repayment: 2.82 million.
  • Federal loan borrowers on Revised Pay As You Earn: 2.56 million.
  • Federal loan borrowers on Pay As You Earn: 1.31 million.
  • Federal loan borrowers on Income-Contingent Repayment: 680,000.

Source: Federal Student Aid, Q1 2019

» MORE: Discretionary income calculator

FAFSA completion

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, is required to be eligible for grants, scholarships, work-study and federal student loans.

  • Percentage of 2018 high school graduates who did not complete the FAFSA: 37%.
  • Average amount each Pell Grant-eligible graduate left on the table by not completing the FAFSA: $3,908.
  • Total amount the class of 2018 left on the table by not completing the FAFSA: $2.6 billion.

Source: cheatgame.info/Florida College Access Network, October 2018

» MORE: 2019-20 FAFSA Guide 

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