US residents owe a total of $1.76 trillion in student loan debt. To put this into context, only 8 countries had a larger GDP in 2022 than the student loan debt of the USA – USA, China, Japan, Germany, UK, India, France, and Italy.
Student loan debt in the USA is the second largest form of debt after home loans or mortgages. It is estimated that 3 in every 10 households takes on debt to pay for college.
All figures in this report include the 50 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico. For the purposes of this report, DC and Puerto Rico may be referred to as states.
Total student loan debt per state
- With a total debt of $141.8 billion, California is the state with the largest student loan debt in the country.
- This means California residents hold a total of 9.42% of all student debt in the USA
- This is followed by Texas and Florida, each of which owes more than $100 billion
- New York, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and North Carolina round out the top 10
- Wyoming is the state with the smallest student loan debt – the residents of the state owe a combined total of $1.7 billion
- Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, South Dakota, Montana, and Hawaii all owe less than $5 billion
- Maine rounds out the bottom 10, owing a total of $6.2 billion
Total student loan debt per state - click here to expand
|State||Total Debt ($ Billion)|
How much do residents of each state owe?
In the USA, the average student loan debt per borrower is $37,787. This varies wildly depending on the type of degree and the type of institution that the student attends.
- DC is the region with the largest average student loan debt per borrower
- On average, DC residents owe $54,945
- This is $17,158 above the national average
- One theory for this is the number of lawyers that live in DC and work for governmental or adjacent organizations given that law school graduates typically have a much larger student loan debt than people who simply have an undergraduate degree.
- This is somewhat reinforced by the fact that Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland – all within commuting distance of DC – are also among the states with the 10th largest average student loan debt per borrower.
- The other states with the largest average student loan debt per borrower are Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Illinois, North Carolina, and New York.
- Puerto Rico is the region with the smallest average student loan debt per borrower in the nation.
- The average borrower from Puerto Rico owes $28,242 – $9,545 below the national average.
- This is thought to be due to lower wages and cost of living in Puerto Rico necessitating colleges to be more affordable in comparison to the mainland schools.
- Rhode Island, Nebraska, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, and North Dakota make up the rest of the 10 states with the lowest average student loan debt per borrower.
- Rhode Island is the state with the 10th-lowest average at $32,056 – $5,731 below the national average of $37,787
Average student loan debt per borrower by state
|State||Avg. debt ($)|
- Given DC residents owe the most on average, it makes sense that they would have the highest percentage of borrowers that owe more the $200,000 in student loan debt in the country
- 5.70% of student loan borrowers from DC owe more than $200k
- The next closest is Maryland where 3.20% owe more than $200k
- This is compared to Alabama where just 0.21% of the population owes more than $200k – the smallest proportion of any state in the country
- Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Iowa, West Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota, and North Dakota all have 1.4% or less of their borrowers who owe more than $200k in student loans
No. of residents with student loan debt per state
- Being the most populous state in the nation, California naturally has the largest number of residents with student loan debt with 3,823,700 people
- However, the raw number of people does not tell the whole story as only 9.74% of the population of California has student loan debt
- This is the 5th lowest percentage of the population with student loan debt of all the states in the nation
- Washington DC is the region with the largest percentage of the population with student loans at 16.60% – around 1 in every 6 people
- Georgia is the state with the largest percentage of the population that has student loan debt at 15.25%
- Ohio, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Connecticut round out the top ten.
- Just 8.49% of the residents of Hawaii have student loan debt making it the state with the smallest percentage of residents with student loan debt.
- North Dakota, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, Puerto Rico, California, Wyoming, Alaska, and Utah are the other states that round out the bottom 10.
- Mirroring California, despite having the highest percentage of the population with student loan debt, DC has the 6th fewest people with student loan debt due to the small size of the region.
- The other states with the fewest people with student loan debt are Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont, the Dakotas, Hawaii, Delaware, Montana, and Rhode Island.
No. of residents with student loan debt
|State||Residents with student loan debt|
Percentage of state residents with student loan debt
|State||% of population with debt|
What percentage of students take out student loans?
In the USA, 45 million Americans have some form of education debt.
- The percentage of undergraduate students who take student loans to cover their living expenses and tuition fees varies wildly from state to state.
- In New Hampshire, 63.9% of undergraduate students take out student loans each year – the most of any state.
- New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, Delaware, and Ohio round out the top 10 states for undergraduates taking student loans with undergraduates in all of these states taking out loans at 42.5% or higher.
- Whereas in California, only 16.5% of undergraduate students take student loans
- Utah, Maryland, Texas, Idaho, Nevada, Washington, Alaska, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Hawaii all have a student loan take-up rate of less than 30%
Percentage of undergraduate students that receive federal student loans
|State||% of undergrads who receive federal student loans|
Undergraduates at 2-year colleges
Generally, undergraduate students at 2-year institutions take out student loans at a lower rate and are loaned a smaller each year than their counterparts who attend 4-year schools.
- The range is huge with 3.50% of undergraduates from 2-year schools taking out student loans in California vs 75.80% in Washington DC
- In California, only 3.50% of undergraduate students at 2-year schools choose to take federal student loans
- In Tennessee, New Mexico, Connecticut, Illinois, and Hawaii all have a student loan take-up rate of less than 10% for students at 2-year schools.
- On the other end of the scale, in Washington DC 75.80% of these students choose to take student loans.
- Alaska, Delaware, South Dakota, and Nevada all have a take-up rate of over 60% for students at 2-year institutions
- The amount that students are loaned each year varies wildly from state to state from $3,862 at the lowest to $7,094 per year at the highest.
- DC also awards the largest amount per year to undergraduate students at 2-year colleges at $7,094 per year
- Students in 14 states are loaned more than $6,000 per year to cover their living costs and tuition fees, including DC, Nevada, California, Alaska, North Dakota, North Carolina, Delaware, Minnesota, Connecticut, Wyoming, Louisiana, South Dakota, and New Jersey
- 2-year students in Nebraska are awarded the smallest amount at an average of $3,862 per year
- Students in 14 states are loaned less than $5,000 per year to cover their living costs and tuition fees, including Nebraska, Missouri, Utah, Idaho, Vermont, Massachusetts, Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan, Arkansas, Wisconsin, and Illinois.
Percentage of students at 2-year institutions that receive federal student loans
|State||% at 2-year schools|
Avg. amount awarded per state to student loan recipients attending 2-year schools
|State||2-year school avg. loan|
Undergraduates at 4-year colleges
- At 4-year colleges, students take out loans from a range of 21.10% in Alaska up to 66.10% in New Hampshire
- In 11 states, more than 50% of undergraduate students at 4-year schools take out student loans each year – New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Iowa, Illinois, Connecticut, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Carolina, New Jersey, Minnesota
- Alaska is the state where the fewest student choose to take a student loan for their 4-year colleges with only 21.10% taking student loans each year
- There are 7 states in total where the student loan uptake at 4-year schools is less than 30% – Alaska, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Florida, Hawaii, and California
- There is a $2,633 difference per year between the amount the students at 4-year colleges in the state that is loaned the largest average amount per student per year and the lowest
- In Mississippi, students at 4-year colleges are awarded $7,671 per year on average – the highest amount in the country
- Students from 11 states in total are awarded more than $7,000 per year in total – Mississippi, Arizona, Connecticut, New Jersey, West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, New Hampshire, Virginia, Oklahoma, and DC
- For students from Wyoming, this amount is $5,038 – the lowest in the country
- Wyoming is the only state in the country where students are loaned less than $6,000 per year on average
- The 2nd lowest is Washington state at $6,214
Percentage of students at 4-year institutions that receive federal student loans
|State||% at 4-year schools|
Avg. amount awarded per state to student loan recipients attending 4-year schools
|State||4-year school avg. loan|
State budget for student financial aid
Approximately 92% of student loan debt is in the form of federal student loans – from the federal government. However, states also provide financial assistance to students in the form of needs-based grants, scholarships, and via other initiatives.
Generally, the majority of this is distributed through grants that do not need to be repaid but some of the money distributed may be liable to be repaid by students at a later date.
- Generally, the most populous states have the largest raw budgets for student financial aid with California, Texas, New York, and Florida topping the list.
- California has the largest budget, spending $2.23 billion on student financial aid each year
- Texas, Florida, and New York all spend more than $1 billion each year
- Similarly, the states with the smallest populations tend to spend significantly less on student financial aid with Rhode Island, South Dakota, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Montana sitting at the bottom of the list
- Montana spends $1.3 million each year on student financial aid
- While the other states mentioned all spend $10 million or less each year
Total financial aid spend per state
|State||Total financial aid spending ($ million)|
Spend per undergraduate student
There are other ways to judge the amount of money that states spend on financial aid such as looking at the amount spent per undergraduate student or looking at the spend as a percentage of GSP.
- South Carolina spends the most per undergraduate student by quite a distance on student financial aid at $3,052 per undergraduate student
- This is $800 per student per year more than Tennessee – the state with the 2nd largest spend per undergraduate student
- In fact, only 5 states spend more than $2,000 per undergraduate student – South Carolina, Tennessee, New Mexico, Georgia, and New Jersey
- New Hampshire spends the least per undergraduate student at $30
- It is one of four states that spend less than $100 per undergraduate student on student financial aid – New Hampshire, Montana, Utah, and Arizona
State level spend per undergraduate student on financial aid
|State||Spend per undergrad ($)|
Spend as a percentage of Gross State Product (GSP)
Gross State Product is the equivalent of the Gross Domestic Product but on a state level within the USA. It measures the value of all the goods and services produced and sold over the course of a year by a state.
- States and territories spend between 0.06% and 0.90% of GSP on student financial aid each year
- Washington DC has the lowest spend on student financial aid at 0.06%
- The state with the lowest spend on student financial aid is New Hampshire at 0.15%
- It’s one of 8 states that spend below 0.30% of the state GSP on student financial aid – Missouri, Massachusetts, Vermont, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Arizona, New Hampshire, and DC
- Wyoming has the largest spend on student financial aid as a percentage of GSP with 0.90%
- A further 5 states spend more than 0.70% of the state GSP on student aid – Mississippi, New Mexico, Hawaii, North Carolina, and Alabama
Percentage of GSP spent on student financial aid per state
|State||% of GSP|