29 Student Debt Facts: The Numbers Don't Lie [Infographic]

I was doing some research on student loans recently for an article, and I kept coming across all of these student debt facts that were crazy.   As someone who personally had over $60,000 in student loans, these really resonated with me.  I thought it might be a good idea to pull some of them together to help motivate or inspire someone by letting folks know they are not alone in their struggle.  

student loan facts


If you have student loan debt, and you aren't planning on doing anything about getting out from it besides making the minimum payments, I would recommend you not read any further, since these will just bum you out.  Seriously.

BUT...If you are working on getting out of debt, use these facts and figures to get fired up and angry. These numbers suck, but they will motivate you to dig deeper to get rid of the burden.  

No one wants to be a statistic...but unfortunately too many of us already are.  

Note: Make sure you scroll all the way down for a shareable infographic.

Student Debt Facts:

1)  $1,480,000,000,000

Holy crap. That is the total amount of outstanding student loan debt  in the United States.

2)  $400,000,000,000 ​

That's how much has went ​into the financing of graduate and professional degrees. 

3)  $50,000,000,000

 That's how much money the Congressional Budget Office projected the Federal Government earned off student loans in 2013, which is 5 billion more than ExxonMobile.

4)  44,200,000

5)  12,000,000

6)  9,000,000

7)  7,000,000 

The number of borrowers who have defaulted as of 2015

8)  >740,000

Number of Borrowers enrolled in Public Service Loan Forgiveness Programs

9)  $100,000

The amount of debt owed by over 15% of undergraduate and graduate students 

10)  $34,000

11)  <$10,000

12)  $3,000

13)  500%

The increase in student loan debt since 1999,  while incomes for young workers have decreased by 10% since the year 2000

14)  $351

​​​​​​​​​​The average monthly payment for borrowers between 20 and 30 years old

15)  275% 

The increase in college tuition costs since 1970, after adjusting for inflation

16)  90% 

17)  80%

18)  71%

The % of students who graduate from four year colleges with student loans

19)  65%  

The % of student loan borrowers who don’t understand the terms of their loans

20)  58%

The surge in student loan debt over the past 10 years

21)  40%

22)  40%

The % of of student loan borrowers who go delinquents with the first 5 years of repayment

23)  27%

The % of college students who move back in with their parents after graduation

24)  15%

The % of student loans are held privately

student debt facts

25)  11.2%

26)  10%

The % of borrowers at least 90 days behind on payments

27)  <25

28)  1

The one city with the highest average of student loan balances, Washington, D.C

29)  0%

The % of federally backed student loans that are currently able to be discharged by bankruptcy

Enough with the doom and gloom. Do something about it!

You didn't think I would end this post without giving some recommendation on what you can do to improve your situation, right?  No way!

There are a few personal finance basics you can do today to start addressing this debt.

  1. Get serious and figure out what is your motivation to get of debt.  Find your why!
  2. You need to figure out where your money is going ASAP, so you'll need  to build a budget that works.  If you are having trouble sticking with your budget, try an all cash approach like the envelope system.
  3. Create a debt snowball plan and hit it hard.  List all your debts from smallest to largest, regardless of payment size or interest, and work the strategy!

Paying off your student loans won't be easy, but it will be worth it.  

What other student debt facts have you found that are surprising?  Leave a comment below!

About the Author

Hello, I'm Ryan Rollins. I've been passionate about personal finance and entrepreneurship for as long as I can remember. After earning my Bachelors of Science in Business and Marketing, I soon found myself at my first software start-up. That experience led to me earning my MBA in Entrepreneurship from the University of Louisville, and eventually to a career in the fintech industry focusing on educating consumers about the importance of being financially resilient. Learn more about me here, and you can also follow me on twitter @TMPF_Ryan and Linkedin.