Millennials’ Student Loan Debt Continues to Rise

Stressed and worried young Asian woman working from home, handling paperworks and going through her financials

Between parents helping their kids finance college and students taking out their own loans to attend school, every generation is saddled with a considerable amount of student loan debt. Millennials carry much of this burden and have one of the highest student loan balances of any generation.

The average student loan balance among millennials—consumers between the ages of 23 and 38—was $34,504 in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019, an 8% increase from Q1 of 2018.

As part of our larger survey of student loan debt, and to find out more about how millennials manage their student loans, Experian reviewed credit data from Q1 2019, comparing it with historical records to see how the generation compares with its peers. Read on for our insights and analysis.

Millennials Carry the Third-Highest Student Loan Debt

Of all the generations, millennials carry the third-highest average student loan balance, at $34,504 per borrower in Q1 2019. And while they owe more than several other generations, millennial student loan balances are still slightly less than the national average, which was $35,359 in Q1 2019, according to Experian data.

Generation X—people between ages 39 and 54—have the most student loan debt of any generation, with an average of $39,584 per borrower. Baby boomers—consumers between ages 55 and 73—have the second-highest average student loan balance, $34,703 in Q1 2019, which is just slightly more than millennials.

Millennials Saw Second-Highest Increase in Student Loan Debt Since Last Year

As with many other types of debt, millennials and members of Generation Z led with the most growth in student loan balances over the past year. Millennial student loan debt increased 8% from Q1 2018, and Gen Z debt saw a 9% increase in the same time period.

When it comes to student loan debt, other generations also saw balance increases since Q1 2018. Gen Xers, who carry the most student loan debt of any generation, saw their student loan balances increase 6% in the past year. Baby boomers, who have the second-highest student loan debt, saw an increase of 7%, and the silent generation saw their student loan debt grow by 4%.

Average Student Loan Balance by Generation
GenerationFICO® Score Q1 2019Average Student Loan Balance Q1 2018Average Student Loan Balance Q1 2019Year-Over-Year Change
Generation Z668$11,476$12,523+9%
Generation X688$37,280$39,584+6%
Baby Boomers731$32,384$34,703+7%
Silent Generation756$24,190$25,222+4%

*Source: Experian

Washington, D.C., Has Highest Millennial Student Loan Balances

Across the U.S., millennials in Washington, D.C., had the highest student loan balances, with an average of $59,101 per borrower in Q1 2019. That's almost 1.5 times greater than the national average of $35,359. Millennials' student loan balances also exceeded the overall average in Washington, D.C., which in Q1 2019 was $55,729.

States With the Highest Millennial Student Loan Balances
StatesAverage FICO® ScoreAverage Student Loan BalanceAverage Total Debt
Washington, D.C. 698$59,109$106,973
New York684$38,856$64,110
New Jersey684$37,612$81,700
Georgia645$37,350 $68,385

*Source: Experian Q1 2019 data

You can learn more about student loan debt by checking out Experian's articles on student loans.

Methodology: The analysis results provided are based on an Experian-created statistically relevant aggregate sampling of our consumer credit database that may include use of the FICO® Score 8 version. Different sampling parameters may generate different findings compared with other similar analysis. Analyzed credit data did not contain personal identification information. Metro areas group counties and cities into specific geographic areas for population censuses and compilations of related statistical data.

FICO® is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the U.S. and other countries.