The State of Student Loan Debt in 2017

Published: August 23, 2017 by Kerry Rivera

School is nearly back in session. You know what that means? The next wave of college students is taking out their first student loans. It’s a milestone moment – and likely the first trade on the credit file for many of these individuals.

According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2016–2017 school year was $33,480 at private colleges, $9,650 for state residents at public colleges, and $24,930 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. So really, regardless of where students go, the cost of a college education is big.

In fact, from January 2006 to July 2016, the Consumer Price Index for college tuition and fees increased 63 percent.

So, unless mom and dad did a brilliant job saving, chances are many of today’s students will take on at least some debt to foot the college bill.

But it’s not just the young who are consumed by student loan debt.

In Experian’s latest State of Student Lending report, we dive into how the $1.4 trillion in student loan debt for Americans is impacting all generations in regards to credit scores, debt load and delinquencies. The document additionally looks at geographical trends, noting which states have the most consumers with student loan debt and which ones have the least.

Overall, we discovered 13.4% of U.S. consumers have one or more student loan balances on their credit file with an average total balance of $34k. Additionally, these consumers have an average of 3.7 student loans with 1.2 student loans in deferment. The average VantageScore® for student loan carriers is 650.

As we looked across the generations, every group – from the Silents (age 70+) to Gen Z (oldest are between 18 to 20) had some student loan debt. While we can make assumptions that the Silents and Boomers are likely taking out these loans to support the educational pursuits of their children and grandchildren, it can be mixed for Gen X, who might still be paying off their own loans and/or supporting their own kids. Gen X members also reported the largest average student loan total balance at $39,802.

Gen Z, the newest members to the credit file, have just started to attend college, thus their generation has the largest percent of student loan balances in deferment at 77%. Their average student loan total balance is also the lowest of all generations at $11,830, but that is to be expected given their young ages.

In regards to geographical trends, the Northern states tended to sport the highest average student loan total balances, with consumers in Washington D.C. winning that race with $52.5k.  Southern states, on the other hand, reported higher percentages of consumers with student loan balances 90+ days past due. South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas held the top spots in the delinquency category.

Access the complete State of Student Lending report.

Data from this report is representative of student loan data on file as of June 2017.

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