Student loan debt stats for 2018

Shocking Student Loan Debt Stats for 2018

This month, we’re focusing on college planning, and today we are sharing an eye-opening update on the most recent student loan debt figures. It’s no secret that college is expensive, but some families don’t realize just how bad the overall burden of student loan debt has become in recent decades.

According to this article at, Americans collectively owe more than $1.48 trillion in student loan debt – or $620 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt.

The average 2016 college graduate with an undergraduate degree is carrying $37,172 in student loan debt, and this number is expected to rise another 6-7% for 2017 grads.

Here is a recent breakdown of the startling facts about general student loan debt in the U.S., via Student Loan Hero:

  • $1.48 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt
  • 44.2 million Americans with student loan debt
  • Student loan delinquency rate of 11.2% (90+ days delinquent or in default)
  • Average monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $351
  • Median monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $203

(Data via, WSJ, here, here and here and here)

A lot of attention is focused on the cost of obtaining an undergraduate degree, but there is often less financial aid available for graduate students, which means that much of the cost of graduate school is often paid for with student loans.

Approximately 40% of student loan debt is used to finance graduate and professional degrees. And the average debt for attaining a degree increases dramatically if you add on the cost of a graduate degree.

For example, here is the average combined debt for an undergraduate and graduate degree in several popular fields of study:

  • MBA: $42,000
  • Master of Education: $50,879
  • Master of Science: $50,400
  • Master of Arts: $58,539
  • Law: $140,616
  • Medicine and health sciences: $161,772

Is it any wonder our country is facing massive levels of college loan debt never seen before?

According to, as of the end of 2017, there were more than

  • $273 billion dollars outstanding in Stafford Subsidized Loans
  • $462 billion in Stafford Unsubsidized Loans
  • $83 billion in Parent PLUS loans
  • $59 billion in Grad PLUS loans
  • $7 billion in Perkins loans
  • and $480 billion in consolidated loans.

Over $75 billion of these loans are in default, which is a big problem for our country – and these numbers aren’t getting any better.

Not only does student loan debt put an incredible burden on families and students, but it also has a detrimental effect on our economy long-term, as it keeps graduates from being able to participate in economy-building activities like buying a home, starting a business, or using their disposable income to support other businesses.

What is your plan to pay for college? If you need help putting together a college plan that will help your family to minimize debt and put your student on track to success after college, please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with a college planning specialist. You may also visit our college planning website to register to attend one of our free local workshops. 


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