Student loan debt is one of the most common things in the United States. According to Student Loan Hero data, some 69% of the Class of 2018 took out student loans and graduated with an average of $29,800 in debt, including both private and public loans. The current nation-wide debt level of $1.56 trillion is spread out among 45 million borrowers. That’s a lot of company if you’re one of the recent graduates or current students to take out some loans to pay for college. But depending on what state you live in, that average student loan debt could be nearly $20,000 different.
According to data released earlier this month from LendEDU, graduates from Utah have the least amount of student loan debt, averaging $19,742. At the other end? Connecticut college graduates have the highest student loan debt at $38,776. LendEDU licensed data from Peterson’s annual financial aid survey, which includes nearly 1,000 U.S.-based public and private universities.
There is a geographical trend to the dataset. States based in the Western U.S. have much lower student loan debts compared to Eastern states. Following Utah with the next lowest average student loan debt is New Mexico with $22,115. Next up in Alaska, which has an average of $22,155. Alaska is followed by California ($22,530) and Nevada ($22,600) to round out the top five states with the least student loan debt. Only one state east of the Mississippi River makes the top ten for lowest student loan debt — Florida at 10th place with an average of $24,664.
The states with the highest average student loan debt levels are mainly Northeastern schools. Following Connecticut with the highest average college debt is New Hampshire with $36,754. After New Hampshire is Rhode Island with $36,121. Rounding out the five states with the highest student loan debt are Pennsylvania ($35,510) and Delaware ($34,144. The first state not in the Northeast is Minnesota with $31,911 in student loan debt.
LARGEST PERCENTAGE INCREASE WAS 22.54% IN CONNECTICUT
LendEDU also tracked the percentage difference in average student loan debt from the Class of 2017 to the Class of 2018. Surprisingly, 13 states saw no gain or a drop in the student loan debt amounts. The highest drop came from Alaska graduates, which had student loan debt drop by 12.6% from 2017 to 2018. Next, Alabama graduates saw a 7.21% decrease. Colorado graduates had the third-best decrease at 6.67%. Meanwhile, Kansas and Oklahoma, each saw significant decreases at 3.95% and 3.9% respectively.
Of course, the majority of states had increases in debt. Connecticut had the biggest percentage jump at an incredible 22.54% increase. Washington D.C. had the next highest leap at 14.23%. Following D.C. was New Hampshire with 9.84%. West Virginia and New Jersey also had increases above 9% at 9.78% and 9.09% respectively.