Student Debt Statistics: 2019 Average Student Loan Debt

Along with interest rates, student loans rates are rising annually. The trend means that students and their families will need to reconsider the long-term costs of relying on outside financial help.

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Student loan debt in the US rose to $1.38 trillion at the end of 2017, up $68 billion from the year before, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

2018-2019 will be the second consecutive year that you’ll see the rates rise.

Here are some essential student loan statistics from the US federal Department of Education that you need to know:

Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category, after mortgage debt, and higher than both credit cards and car loans

44.2 million U.S. borrowers have student loan debt

Rates on loans for graduate students will go up to 6.6 percent from 6 percent in 2018-2019

Rates on PLUS loans, the affordable and low-interest Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students, or professional school students, will jump to 7.6 percent from 7 percent.

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According to a study published by the private student loan lender Sallie Mae, parents usually overestimate the extent to which they’ll be able to fund their children’s education and underestimate how much they’ll need to borrow.

Parents predicted that 13 percent of college costs be paid with student loans, but actually saw loans covering a full 19 percent of costs during the 2016-17 school year, according to a Sallie Mae study published in May 2018.

Parents predicted that their savings would cover 29 percent of college costs, compared with an actual share of 10 percent.

US states with larger populations have higher student loan debts. California, Florida, Texas and New York are among the four highest states for total student loan debt among resident borrowers and represent more than 20 percent of the country’s student loan borrowers.

New Hampshire has the highest average student loan debt per student ($36,367) from the class of 2016.

As of 2018, more than 42 million student loan borrowers have student loan debt of $100,000 or less.

Student loans are available from the federal government or from private lenders. Federal student loans guarantee consumer protections, including options to have monthly payments based on your income. Private student loans can vary over the lifetime of the loan.

  •  In the 2018-2019 academic year, interest rates on federal student loans for undergrads will increase to 5.05 percent from 4.45 percent.
  • The largest concentration of student loan debt is $10,000 - $25,000, which accounts for 12.4 million student loan borrowers.
  • There are 29.1 million student loan borrowers under the age of 39, who represent approximately two-thirds (65 percent) of all student loan borrowers.
  • More than 33 million student loan borrowers hold approximately $1.1 billion in Direct Loans. Another 14.5 million student loan borrowers hold $301 billion in Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL).


The government sets new student loan rates every year, as per a formula developed by Congress. The new rates take effect every year on July 1 and apply to loans for the following academic year.