Student Loan Debt by Age Statistics

Student Loan Debt by Age Statistics

Top student loan statistics by age

  • Since 2017, the average student loan debt has increased:
    • 6.1% for 25 to 34-year-olds
    • 17.9% for 35 to 49-year-olds
    • 25.6% for 50 to 61-year-olds
    • 25.6% for those 62 and older
  • For those aged 24 and under the average student loan debt decreased by 3.6% since 2017 – they have an average student loan debt of $16,500
  • Adults aged 18 to 29 years are more than twice as likely as adults in any other age group to have student debt – 34% of them have student loan debt
  • The average student debt for 35-year-olds is 287% greater than the original value of their loan
  • 27.7% of older millennials have a debt of $10,000 or less
  • However, more than 79% of millennials claim student debt is a problem for young people
  • 49% of adults under 30 with a bachelor’s degree or higher have student loan debt

How much of the federal student loan debt does each age group owe?

  • The total federal student loan burden is $1.7 trillion
  • Millennials have the largest number of student loan borrowers – 15 million millennials have student loan debt
  • These 15 million millennials owe 30.39% of the total student loan debt ($516.63 billion)
  • However, the 14.6 million Gen Xers with student loans owe more than any other group – 38.74% ($658.58 billion)
  • Gen Z owes less than any other group – mainly due to the small number who have attended college and the small number that have, as of yet, completed expensive, advanced degrees (e.g. law school, medical school, or Ph.D.)
  • 7.4 million Gen Z borrowers owe 6.4% of the total federal student loan debt
  • This compares to 2.6 million of the silent generation that owes 6.55% or 6.5 million boomers that owe 17.92%
  • This can, in part, be attributed to the cost of advanced degrees, interest accrued over the years, and parental loans to help put children through college

National student loan debt by generation

Generation% of federal debtTotal no. of borrowers
Gen Z6.40%7.4 million
Millennial30.39%15 million
Gen X38.74%14.6 million
Boomers17.92%6.5 million
Silent generation6.55%2.6 million

Remaining student loan debt balance by decade

  • Those in their 20s have the 2nd smallest student loan debt balance remaining, just behind those in their 90s
  • This can be attributed to the cheaper cost of undergraduate degrees and the fact that substantial interest has not yet accrued on the initial loan yet
  • For those in their 90s, it is likely the balance of the loans will never be repaid in full
  • Those in their 30s and 40s with student loan debt owe the most with an average balance of $40,500 and $40,400 respectively
  • Although tuition fees were cheaper when these people attended college, the balance has had time to accrue interest – meaning the initial balance also can grow
  • Many people with smaller student loans are also able to pay off their entire balance within 10 years on the standard repayment plan meaning that those left with debt can often be those with unusually large debt amounts – either due to advanced degrees or inability to get high paying jobs that allow them to pay down the initial loan
AgeRemaining balance

Percentage of each age group with student loan debt

  • More than 1 in 4 adults under the age of 40 have student loan debt
  • By the time people enter their 40s, this has reduced
  • In part, this is because more people have paid off their debt but it can also be attributed to fewer people attended college in the past and lower tuition fees allowing older people to work their way through college
  • Some of the older people with student loan debt can be attributed to parental student loans to assist in puting children through college
Age group% with student loan debt
Under 3026.0%

Student loan debt over the years by age group

  • Since 2004, the amount of student loan debt owed by every age group has more than doubled
  • The age group with the smallest increase is the under 30s – but the amount they owe has multiplied by 2.6x over the previous two decades
  • This can be attributed to people in this age group generally undertaking undergraduate degrees – the degrees with the smallest financial burden
  • Generally, those completing advanced degrees are approaching or entering their 30s by the time they start working their first professional jobs while having high student loan debt without having enough experience to garner the full benefit of their degree in terms of wages
  • Since 2004, the total student loan debt owed by 30 – 39-year-olds has multiplied by 4.1x
  • For 40 – 49-year-olds, student loan debt has multiplied by 5.7x
  • For 50 – 59-year olds, student loan debt has increased by 6x
  • The most dramatic increase is for the over 60s – multiplying by 13.6x

Total student loan debt by age group (billion $)

  • Traditionally, those under the age of 30 had always had the largest student loan debt burden
  • This changed in 2014 when those in their 30s overtook the under 30s in terms of total student loan debt
  • This can partially be explained by the stagnation in wages after the 2008 financial crisis and the inability of people who graduated around that time to find high paying jobs to pay down their student loans 
YearUnder 3030-3940-4950-5960+

Number of delinquent student loan borrowers by age

  • As a rule, the older a borrower is, the less likely they are to be in default
  • Under 24s are generally less likely to be in default as a large percentage are still in school or in the grace period where they are not yet required to make repaymens 
  • Default rates are remarkably low with well under 1% of each age group in delinquency
Days Delinquent24 and younger25 to 3435 to 4950 to 6162+
31–90 Days Delinquent0.06%0.21%0.19%0.08%0.02%
91–180 Days Delinquent0.06%0.15%0.13%0.05%0.01%
181–270 Days Delinquent0.03%0.09%0.07%0.03%0.01%
271–360 Days Delinquent0.02%0.06%0.05%0.02%0.01%
361+ Days Delinquent0.01%0.04%0.03%0.01%0%