Student LoansStudent Loan Refinance

Average Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2017

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Did you know that there are currently 44.2 million borrowers, here in the US, that have a cumulate student loan debt amount of over $1.3 trillion? Not only is this an outrageous amount of debt, but this number is continuing to rapidly grow. According to MarketWatch, average student loan debt is rising by $2,667.20 every second. So, let’s break it down and see where all this student loan debt is coming from.

Federal Average Student Loan Debt

By Loan Program

Average Student Debt By Federal Loan Program
Loan Program Dollars Outstanding (billions) Recipients (millions)
Direct Loans  $1,017.0  32.0
Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL)  $312.6  15.2
Perkins Loans  $7.8  2.6
Total  $1,337.4  42.0

By Loan Type

 Debt By Student Loan Type
Loan Type Dollars Outstanding (billions) Recipients (millions)
Stafford Subsidized  $269.9  29.0
Stafford Unsubsidized  $450.3  27.6
Stafford Total  $720.2  32.2
Grad PLUS  $56.6  1.1
Parent PLUS  $80.5  3.4
Perkins  $7.8  2.6
Consolidation  $472.3  12.0

By Loan Status

Your loan status is the current state of your federal loan. While just over 50 percent of the federal student loan debt has the status of “repayment”, meaning that the loan is being actively paid off, there are 5 other loan status categories that can be applied to the debt.

Average Student Loan Debt By Status (Direct Loan Program)
Loan Status Dollars Outstanding (billions) Recipients (millions)
In-School  $120.4  6.5
Grace Period  $41.7  1.7
Repayment  $553.7 17.2
Deferment  $108.6  3.4
Forbearance  $105.9  2.6
Default  $78.9  4.4


  • In-School: If your loan is “in-school” status, this means that the loan has yet to enter repayment because the borrower is still enrolled in school.
  • Grace Period: Loans enter a 6-month grace period, in which borrowers are not expected to make monthly payments. This grace period begins the moment a borrower is no longer enrolled in school as, at minimum, a part-time student.
  • Deferment: Loans in deferment are loans with payments that have been paused or postponed for various circumstances.
  • Forbearance: Includes loans in which a borrower cannot make loan payments but do not qualify for deferment.
  • Default: Loans in default are loans that borrowers have failed to repay for more than 360 days.

By Deferment Type

Below, you will find the amount of average student loan debt broken out by deferment type. As mentioned above, deferment is a period of time in which you can delay repayment on your student loans. Federal agencies offer qualifying borrowers deferment options for a variety of different circumstances. Currently, 3.5 million borrowers have loans in deferment.

Student Loan Debt in Deferment (Direct Loan Program)
Deferment Type Dollars Outstanding (billions) Recipients (millions)
In-School  $85.3  2.86
6-Month Post Enrollment  $12.5  0.26
Unemployment  $6.7  0.17
Economic Hardship  $3.2  0.10
Military  $0.3  0.01

By Forbearance Type

Borrowers with loans in forbearance may be able to pause or reduce their monthly payments for up to a year. The four types of forbearance are as follows. Administrative forbearance includes loans that have been paused during transition periods when the borrower is in the process of getting proper documentation to see if they are eligible for federal programs. Loans that are in discretionary forbearance are loans that are paused or reduced because of financial hardships incurred by the borrower, including periods of unemployment and medical issues. Mandatory administration is a type of forbearance for extreme circumstances such as death, local and national emergencies, or military movement. Mandatory forbearance is for borrowers involved in medical or dental residency programs, the National Guard, and for teacher loan forgiveness.

Check out the amount of average student loan debt that falls into these four types of forbearance:

Student Loan Debt in Forbearance (Direct Loan Program)
Forbearance Type Dollars Outstanding (billions) Recipients (millions)
Administrative  $29.0  0.90
Discretionary  $68.4  1.57
Mandatory Administrative  $1.2  0.04
Mandatory  $7.3  0.10
Not Reported  $0.0  0.00
Total  $105.9  2.61

By Repayment Plan

Average Student Loan Debt By Repayment Plan (Direct Loan Program)
Loan Type Dollars Outstanding (billions) Recipients (millions)
Standard: 10 years or less  $207.2  11.34
Extended: Greater than 10 years  $77.0  1.71
Graduated: 10 years or less  $77.1  2.87
Graduated: Greater than 10 years  $13.7  0.30
Income-Contingent  $26.1  0.62
Income-Based  $169.6  2.96
Pay As You Earn  $58.5  1.11
REPAYE  $82.6  1.59
Alternative  $14.4  0.50
Other  $41.8  0.18


  • Standard Repayment: Has fixed payments over a period of 10 years or less.
  • Extended Repayment: Has fixed payments over a time period greater than 10 years.
  • Graduated Repayment: Has graduated payments, which means that the payments will start out small and gradually rise over time.
  • Income-Contingent Repayment: Calculates monthly payments based on a borrower’s adjusted gross income, family size and total amount borrowed and is repaid over a 25-year period. The remaining balance of student loan debt at the end of this 25-year period will be forgiven.
  • Income-Based Repayment: Caps borrower’s monthly payments at 10 or 15 percent of their discretionary income, depending on when the borrower took out his/her loan. The remaining balance is forgiven after 20 or 25 years of repayment.
  • Pay As You Earn: This repayment plan caps borrower’s monthly payments at 10% of discretionary income for 20 years. The remaining loan balance at the end of this 20-year period will be forgiven.
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE): Caps borrower’s monthly payments at 10% of discretionary income. The remaining loan balance will be forgiven at the end of a 20-year period for undergraduate student loans and after a 25-year period for graduate student loans.
  • Alternative Repayment: A plan that is made custom for borrower-specific circumstances. Must meet Federal repayment plan requirements.

Data Source:
Report current as of Q3 2017

Private Student Loan Debt Facts

While Federal Student Loans make up nearly 93 percent of outstanding student debt, the other remaining 7 percent comes from private student loans. Private student loans are loans issued by a lender such as a bank, credit union, or state agency. Undergraduate private student loans make up 86 percent of the total private student loan balance, while graduate student loans make up the remaining 14 percent.

    • Undergraduate Private Student Loans: $87.72 billion outstanding
    • Graduate Private Student Loans: $14.28 billion outstanding
    • Total Private Student Loan Debt: $102 billion outstanding

Data Source: MeasureOne
Report current as of Q3 2016

Student Debt By State

Below you will find the top ten states that have the highest, as well as the lowest, average student loan debt. These averages where calculated by The Institute for College Access and Success using the student loan data from both public and private, 2 and 4 year, colleges and universities.

10 States with the Highest Average Student Loan Debt
State Average Debt % of Students with Debt
New Hampshire  $36,101  76%
Pennsylvania  $34,798  71%
Connecticut  $34,773  64%
Delaware  $33,849  65%
Rhode Island  $32,920  65%
Minnesota  $31,526  70%
Massachusetts  $31,466  66%
District of Columbia  $31,452  55%
South Carolina  $30,564  60%
Ohio  $30,239  66%
10 States with the Lowest Average Student Loan Debt
State Average Debt % of Students with Debt
Utah  $18,873  41%
New Mexico  $20,193  58%
California  $22,191  54%
Wyoming  $22,683  46%
Florida  $23,379  53%
Hawaii  $23,456  50%
Nevada  $23,462  47%
Arizona  $23,780  56%
Washington  $24,600  57%
Oklahoma  $24,849  52%

Data Source:


3 Ways to Reduce Your Student Loan Debt

1. Refinance

Per a study done by Goldman Sachs, $211 billion of outstanding student loans are eligible for refinance. Of this number, they predict $147 billion of Federal student debt and $64 billion of outstanding private student debt is eligible for refinancing.

Having a high interest rate can prevent you from paying off your student loans. Refinancing your student loans allows you to consolidate all your student loan debts into one loan, at a potentially lower interest rate than you are currently paying.

2. Make Payments Twice a Month

As a borrower, you owe one full payment on your loan every month. By the year end, this would equal a total of 12 total payments, since there are 12 months in a year. Consider breaking your one monthly payment in half and making the payment every 2 weeks.

You may be wondering how this makes a difference? By making payments every 2 weeks, you will have a total of 26 bi-weekly payments per year, or 13 monthly payments. So, without knowing it, you have just made an extra payment on your student loans.

3. Pursue A Career That Offers Student Loan Forgiveness

There are careers out there that provide forgiveness programs that assist employees with paying off their student loans. Careers within the public sector, such as teachers and nurses, are just a few of many employment opportunities that have programs available for alleviating student debt. It’s important to read up on the various programs offered to learn the pros and cons of each, in addition to finding out if your loans qualify for forgiveness.


Compare Student Loan Refinance Options