10 Top States with Most and Least Student Loan Debt
March 14, 2014

Project on Student Debt recently released their report Student Debt and the Class of 2012 and their data shows, once again, which states have students that are racking up the most and least debt. This is their eighth annual report and it shows that, overall, 71% of students that graduated in 2012 came out of school with debt. Not only is this up 3% from their 2008 data, but the amount of debt went up roughly 6% per year. This is a drastic increase and should concern us all.

Project on Student Debt data shows which states have highest student debt

State by state data on student loans
Image source: ProjectOnStudentDebt.org

The report also shows that most students have debt – anywhere from 41%-78% of students graduate in debt and the debt averages from $18k to $33k. Within the state, average debt by student varies more widely, so you have to bear in mind that the averages don’t express what your personal experience may have been, but are more overarching indicators for your region.

Top 10 states for most student loan debt

Michigan comes in at #10 with nearly $29,000 in debt. Ohio, New Jersey, Maine and Iowa come in at #6-#9 with debts ranging from $29,000-$29,500. Rhode Island, Minnesota and Pennsylvania rank #3-#5 with debts of roughly $31,000. The top two states for most dramatic student debt are New Hampshire at #2, with almost $33,000 in debt, and Delaware at #1 with $33,650 in average student debt. The bottom line is that college graduates in New England are generating the lion’s share of student loans.

Top 10 states for least student loan debt

So who’s accumulating the least college debt? Louisiana, Kentucky and D.C. Rank #10-#8 for lowest student debt with graduates averaging $22,000-$23,000. Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming come in at #7-#5 with debts in the $21,000s. Nevada ranks as the fourth lowest state for student debt at $20,500. Arizona comes in third lowest at $20,300. And the two lowest states in the union are California with an average $20,270 in student loans and New Mexico at a way low $18,000 average. The bottom line on who’s borrowing less is that the South West is the most modest region for school debt accumulation. Yeehaw!

Top states for greatest percentage of graduates in debt

A third statistic we thought was telling was what percentage of graduates come out of school in debt – irrespective of how deep that debt was. Here’s what Project on Student Debt revealed… Minnesota grads are fourth most likely to accumulate debt with 70% of graduates borrowing for school. Iowa is #3 with 71% of student borrowing. New Hampshire is #2 with 74% of grads coming out of school owing money. And South Dakota’s college students are most likely to borrow with 78% of grads in debt. This means that not only are all of these states (excepting SD) most likely to have students in debt, but they are in the most debt. This is of great concern.

The fact is for you, the borrower, your student loan circumstance will be unique to you no matter where you live. But these statistics are very important from a national debt perspective. This shows exactly why campaigns like Higher Ed Not Debt that we wrote about this week are so important. Even if your loans are paid off (hooray you!) or you owe a manageable amount, the fact is this $1.2 trillion of debt is impacting all of us because of the overarching impact on our economy.

To keep track of your student loans, sign up for Tuition.io’s free student loan tool. And be sure to read our blog every day for tons of tips on paying your debt, news like this and updates on legislation and other important student loan matters.