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You may have seen reports and articles about the student loan debt crisis in America. In America, 43 million people of all ages are in debt to obtain a college degree. Finally, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, total student loan debt reached $1.54 trillion in the first quarter of 2020. Obviously, this number is alarming to many – it’s more than the total credit card debt in the country. In addition to having a lot of money, paying off these loans is also difficult for many people: millions default on their student loans, and more students fail to make progress toward becoming debt-free. Another Federal Reserve study in 2019 found that “only 36 percent of borrowers who were current on their loans had reduced their balances in the past twelve months.” You may be concerned about these statistics. Many families fear taking out loans that they may not be able to repay for years or decades. Importantly, student loan debt isn’t just a problem for young people: Americans over the age of 60 owed more than $86b in 2019. The good news is that student loans can be a very powerful tool for pursuing higher education. Current rates for federal loans are the lowest they’ve been in a while, and federal loans come with significant protections that can help you stay on track even when your financial situation is tough. A personal loan can fill the extra gap you have. But it’s important to consider your circumstances and understand context when planning for student loans. General Student Loan Debt Statistics Here’s a look at some of the basics of overall student loan debt in the US (Source: NY Federal Reserve): Total number of borrowers with student loan debt: 44.7 million Total student loan debt: $1.54 trillion Amount of student loan debt 90+ days delinquent or in default: 10.8 percent of people under 30 who went to college and carried some debt: 55 percent Average monthly payment amount for student loan borrowers: $200-$299 In 2016, Citizens Bank compiled research on their “Debt In Millennial Graduates” study. They surveyed college graduates age 35 and younger with student loans. Study shows: People are spending 18 percent of their current salary on student loan payments. Sixty percent of those surveyed expect graduate programs to pay off student loan debt in their 40s, with all of the above numbers including loan numbers and degree types — undergraduate and graduate. What types of loans do college students take out while pursuing an undergraduate degree? The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) released a report titled “Student Debt and the Class of 2018.” They surveyed recent college graduates about student loan debt. Of the college seniors we surveyed from four-year public and private not-for-profit colleges, 65 percent had student loan debt. These college seniors carried an average of $29,200 in student loan debt. Loans from for-profit colleges are also higher. In 2016, 83 percent of graduates from four-year colleges had student loan debt. These students graduated with an average of $39,900 in debt. This study doesn’t just cover federal student loans. For the graduates who participated in the study, 17 percent of their debt was to private lenders. When federal loans don’t cover all of their college expenses, many times students take out private loans to fill the gap. Student Loan Debt from Graduate Programs Graduate students also deal with student loan debt. They often face higher loan amounts because of the costs associated with pursuing an advanced degree. Add to that the fact that they still have student loan debt from their undergraduate program, they are facing a huge student loan debt bill. Based on data compiled by the US Department of Education, here is the average accumulated student loan debt by recent graduates who completed an advanced degree in 2018: Medicine (doctorate): $246,000 Health Sciences (doctorate): $202,400 Law: $145,500 Education (doctorate): $111,900 Non-Education PhD: $98,800 Other Non-PhD: $132,200 What does average student loan debt mean to you? It’s easy to look at a bunch of statistics about student loan debt and get discouraged or intimidated. What should they mean to you? First of all, student loan debt is very real and very common. It is something that affects the lives of people everywhere. If you’re planning to attend college, you should start estimating how much debt you’ll have to pay off after graduation. Use what you know about your family’s finances to consider what you can afford. Second, every graduate must have a clear plan before entering school. Research which schools or degree programs will offer the best value – rather than the best name or popularity. Perhaps there is a family tradition associated with a particular school. There are hundreds of reasons for a student to choose a particular college. But if you think you can take on too much debt, you may want to rethink your college plan to target schools that will offer you more financial aid or scholarships. With some advance planning it is very possible to reduce the amount of student loan debt you will incur. It’s also possible to maximize your money and get the best value by being more strategic with your college choice. It shows how much you’ll actually pay for college based on the information you provide, helping you compare college costs with data from multiple sources. Depending on the statistics and your family’s situation, student loan debt may seem inevitable — but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead and make decisions to reduce or eliminate the aid you need. You also have the opportunity to make your student loans work for you by finding the college with the best value for your money.
Average Student Loan Debt Private University
Kevin Payne is a freelance writer and family travel and budgeting expert behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com. Kevin lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and four children.
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