A lot can change over the course of a decade, and when it comes to student loan debt, most of that change has been in the negative direction.
According to a Bloomberg report, the nation’s student loan debt total has more than doubled since 2009, when it was $675 billion. Now, that figure has ballooned to $1.52 trillion in 2019.
There are plenty of student loan debt statistics that paint a broad stroke of how the situation has severely worsened over the last 10 years.
LendEDU wanted to take it a step further.
By licensing the annual Peterson’s financial aid survey, we have produced the Average Student Loan Debt by School by State Report for the last three years; the most recent version reflecting the graduating Class of 2017. While using the same data that we compiled to analyze the 2017 academic year, we have also tapped into Peterson’s again by licensing their 2007 financial aid dataset.
In both 2007 and 2017, the latter being the most recent and complete version made available by Peterson’s, participating colleges and universities voluntarily submit their financial aid data to Peterson’s.
Putting the 2007 and 2017 figures side by side, LendEDU created this report analyzing how student loan debt has changed over the decade at 922 different colleges and universities, while also evaluating how the student debt situation has evolved on a state level.
Also included in the report is a look at how student loan debt has changed in a decade at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), women’s colleges and universities, as well as at public and private institutions.
Continue reading to see how student loan debt in the U.S. has transformed at a micro-level over the course of a decade.
Table of Contents:
- Median Values For Changes Over a Decade by School Type
- Average Values For Changes Over a Decade by School Type
- Percent Difference in Average Debt Per Borrower by School
- Monetary Difference in Average Debt Per Borrower by School
- Difference in Percent of Graduates With Student Debt by School
- Percent Difference in Average Debt Per Borrower by State
- Monetary Difference in Average Debt Per Borrower by State
- Difference in Percent of Graduates With Student Debt by State
- State-Level Data in Interactive Maps
Student Loan Debt By Decade Data
School-Level Data Broken Down By School Type
The following two graphics depict the median and average values for the three key ranking statistics we used for this report: (1) How the percentage of graduates with student loan debt has changed from 2007 to 2017; (2) How the average debt per borrower in monetary terms has changed from 2007 to 2017; (3) How the percent change in average debt per borrower has changed from 2007 to 2017.
This particular section broke the data down into five different school types: (1) “Overall” which included all 922 schools; (2) “Private” which included only private institutions; (3) “Public” which included only public institutions; (4) “HBCUs” which included only historically black colleges and universities; (5) “Women’s” which included only women’s institutions.
In each chart, the figure represents the change that occurred over the last decade. For example, at private institutions, the average student loan debt monetary figure increased by a median value of $9,212 from 2007 to 2017. Further at private institutions, the percentage of graduates with student loan debt decreased by a median percentage value of 3% from 2007 to 2017.
School Type: Median Values For Changes Over a Decade
School Type: Average Values For Changes Over a Decade
Overall School-Level Data
Below, you will find three tables that account for all four-year, private and public, not-for-profit colleges and universities that submitted their data to Peterson’s for both the 2007 and 2017 academic years. Each table ranks the schools according to one of the three aforementioned ranking statistics.
For example, University of the Incarnate Word lowered their average student debt per borrower the most in terms of both percentage and monetary value, while Oral Roberts University lowered their percentage of graduates with student loan debt the most from 2007 to 2017.
Within each of the three tables, you can also see how that institution fared in its respective state by looking at the “State Rank” column; you can also populate the table with schools exclusively from one state by typing that desired state name in the search bar.
Additionally, you can also populate the tables with exclusively public or private institutions, or exclusively with HBCUs or women’s institutions by typing “private,” “public,” “HBCU,” or “Women’s” into the search bar, respectively.
Average Debt Per Borrower School Rankings: Percent Difference From 2007 to 2017
Average Debt Per Borrower School Rankings: Monetary Difference From 2007 to 2017
Percentage of Graduates With Student Loan Debt School Rankings: Difference From 2007 to 2017
Overall State-Level Data
The next three tables are very similar in layout to the previous three tables, except all 50 states and Washington D.C. are getting ranked rather than the schools themselves. To assign average figures to the states to rank them, we used a weighted average based on the 2017 graduating class size for each school in that respective state. Schools with larger graduating classes had more weight given to their figures and vice versa.
Note: Due to limited data-collecting practices by Peterson’s in 2007, the state figures are only estimates and may not be fully accurate. This is because, in order to weight each school’s 2007 numbers, we had to use the graduating class sizes from the Class of 2017 as Peterson’s had not yet started to collect graduating Class size in 2007.
Average Debt Per Borrower State Rankings: Percent Difference From 2007 to 2017
Average Debt Per Borrower State Rankings: Monetary Difference From 2007 to 2017
Percentage of Graduates With Student Loan Debt State Rankings: Difference From 2007 to 2017
Overall State-Level Data in Maps
Finally, you can find three individual maps below. Each one depicts the same data from one of the three key ranking statistics used in the state-level tables immediately above.
Average Debt Per Borrower State-Level Map: Percent Difference From 2007 to 2017
Average Debt Per Borrower State-Level Map: Monetary Difference From 2007 to 2017
Percentage of Graduates With Student Loan Debt State-Level Map: Difference From 2007 to 2017
Tips on Managing Student Loan Debt
Managing your student loan debt after college can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re not familiar with the best practices.
Fortunately, there are a number of different options to consider that may help you pay off your student loans in a more efficient manner, or even possibly lower the amount of student debt you have to repay.
Refinancing Student Loans
First, refinancing your student loans is always an option worth considering. When you refinance student loans, you work with a private student loan lender to pay off your old loan(s) and take out a new single loan, hopefully with a lower interest rate or better repayment terms (or both).
To be eligible for refinancing, you will need to have a good credit score or a creditworthy cosigner. Before you refinance federal student loans, however, be sure to consider the federal benefits you will be giving up.
It’s also important to note that you do have the ability to refinance your student loans more than one time if you feel that even better terms are out there.
Pay Off Student Loans Faster
Second, you can always consider being more aggressive in paying off your student loans. The first way is by paying more than the monthly minimum, which will reduce your principal balance more quickly, and in turn, lower the amount of interest you must pay.
Another strategy is making biweekly payments of half your monthly fee instead of monthly payments. By making biweekly payments, you will end up making a full extra monthly payment each year which will help reduce interest costs.
Explore Other Repayment Plans
Third and finally, you can look into extended repayment terms offered by the federal government. Keep in mind, though, that most federal student loan repayment plans, like income-driven repayment plans, will extend the time it takes to pay off your student loans, which will ultimately tack on more interest.
While your monthly payments may end up being lower, you will take many more years to pay off your debt in full than if you had stuck with a standard repayment plan.
These plans should only be used if you cannot afford your payments under the standard 10-year repayment plan.
LendEDU’s “How Student Loan Debt Has Changed Over the Past Decade: By School and State” report was created using two datasets from Peterson’s financial aid data. The first dataset used reflected the 2007 academic year and the second dataset reflected the 2017 academic year, which was released in August 2018 and is the most recent complete dataset made available by Peterson’s. The data for both years was reported through a voluntary survey to the colleges and universities listed in the report. For reference, the data is released on a one year delay. The Class of 2018 data will not be available until the late Summer or Fall of 2019. We only used colleges and universities that voluntarily submitted their data to Peterson’s for both years.
To calculate the state level data, we assigned weights to the individual colleges within a particular state. The weights were assigned by placing more value on schools with larger graduation class sizes and vice versa. Because Peterson’s did not yet start collecting graduation class sizes in 2007, we had to weight the 2007 data using the 2017 graduation class sizes at each school, which is why the data is likely to be inaccurate on the state-level. Once the weighting was done, we split the state-level rankings into three individual rankings.
The first ranking was based on how much the percent change in average student loan debt per borrower changed from 2007 to 2017. The second ranking was based on how much the average student loan debt per borrower changed from 2007 to 2017 overall. The third ranking was based on how much the percentage of graduates with student loan debt changed from 2007 to 2017.
For reference, Peterson’s provides the average student loan debt per borrower, the graduating class size, and the percentage of graduates with student loan debt as stand-alone statistics, meaning the numbers were reported as LendEDU received them. This data was also provided to Peterson’s on a voluntary basis from the participating colleges and universities. LendEDU did not audit the accuracy of the college level data so it is possible that some institutions misreported their financial aid data.
In regards to occurrences where zero values are seen in the report, Peterson’s makes every effort to validate the data that is submitted by colleges and universities on their annual surveys. There are some schools that had reported a zero value for some figures. In these instances the school provided these figures on their annual survey that was returned to Peterson’s.
On the school-level basis, no weighting was necessary and LendEDU was able to just perform basic math using the provided data. For example, we simply took a school’s average student loan debt per borrower figure from 2007 and subtracted it from the same school’s average student loan debt per borrower figure from 2017 to find how that figure has changed from 2007 to 2017. A similar process was performed for the other two ranking statistics.
To find the median and average values for the different school types, we simply took either the median or average value from the three key ranking statistics for each school that was classified under a certain school type.
The universities and colleges included in this study are limited to the following university function types: 4-Year Colleges, 4-year Comprehensive Higher Education Institutions, and 4-year Universities.
The universities and colleges included in this study are limited to the following main institution control types: Public State Controlled, Public State-Related, Private Nonprofit, and Private Religious.
The school-level Average Student Debt per Borrower is the cumulative principal borrowed through any loan programs for the last graduating undergraduate class (all students who started at the institution as first-time students and received a bachelor’s degree)–Federal Perkins, Federal Stafford Subsidized and Unsubsidized, institutional, state, private loans that the institution is aware of, etc. Includes both Federal Direct Student Loans and Federal Family Education Loans. Includes only loans (including co-signed loans) made to students who borrowed while enrolled at the institution. Excludes students who transferred in and money borrowed at other institutions, students who did not graduate or who graduated with another degree or certificate but no bachelor’s degree, as well as parent loans.
The school level Average Private Student Debt per Borrower is the cumulative principal borrowed through Private alternative loans made by a bank or lender. Includes only loans (including co-signed loans) made to students who borrowed while enrolled at the institution. Excludes students who transferred in and money borrowed at other institutions, students who did not graduate or who graduated with another degree or certificate but no bachelor’s degree, as well as parent loans.
See more of LendEDU’s Research