(NEXSTAR) – Despite recent rounds of forgiveness for thousands of borrowers, nearly 43 million Americans are responsible for roughly $1.6 trillion in federal student loans.
The Biden administration has indicated that they intended to move forward with forgiving at least a portion of federal student loans. Late last month, President Joe Biden confirmed that while he “is not considering $50,000” in forgiveness per borrower, he is “considering dealing with some debt reduction.”
Student loan forgiveness in any form would undoubtedly impact borrowers, but especially those living in certain states.
As seen in the interactive map below, states with larger populations – California, Texas, Florida, and New York – have the highest totals of federal student loan debt.
Residents of California owe a cumulative $141.8 billion in federal student loan debt as of December 2021. Texas residents aren’t far behind with $120 billion.
In total, residents in Wyoming owe the least at $1.7 billion. The next-lowest is Alaska, with a total federal student loan debt of $2.3 billion.
The table below shows the states with the most federal student loan debt, on the left, compared to states that owe the least, on the right.
|States that owe the most||States that owe the least|
|California ($141.8B)||Wyoming ($1.7B)|
|Texas ($120B)||Alaska ($2.3B)|
|Florida ($100.9B)||North Dakota ($2.5B)|
|New York ($92.7B)||Vermont ($2.9B)|
|Georgia ($68.6B)||South Dakota ($3.6B)|
While those dollar amounts may seem vast, they're less overwhelming when broken down by the average amount owed per borrower in each state.
A borrower in the District of Columbia owes, on average, nearly $55,000 in federal student loans based on data from the Federal Student Aid office. Maryland borrowers came in second, owing an average of nearly $43,000 in federal student loans.
The interactive map below shows the average student loan debt per borrower in each state.
Student Loan Debt in South Carolina
According to the data, South Carolina’s student loan debt is higher per borrower, and its population has a higher proportion of indebted student borrowers.
Here's the breakdown:
- $28.1 billion in student loan debt belongs to state residents.
- $38,414 is the average student loan debt.
- 731,500 student borrowers live in South Carolina.
- 51.8% of them are under the age of 35.
- 14.3% of state residents have student loan debt.
- Among the state’s indebted student borrowers, 14.7% owe less than $5,000.
- 22.2% owe $20,000 to $40,000 ($28,651).
- 2.2% owe more than $200,000.
Borrowers in North Dakota have the lowest average student loan debt at around $28,600. This makes it the only state where the average debt is less than $30,000. Iowa borrowers have the second-lowest debt at roughly $30,800.
Below are the five states with the highest average student loan debt as well as those with the lowest.
|States with the highest average student loan debt||States with the lowest average student loan debt|
|District of Columbia ($54.9K)||North Dakota ($28.6K)|
|Maryland ($42.8K)||Iowa ($30.8K)|
|Georgia ($41.6K)||South Dakota ($30.9K)|
|Virginia ($39.1K)||Wyoming ($31.2K)|
|Florida ($38.4K)||Oklahoma ($31.5K)|
Overall, the Education Data Initiative found the District of Columbia carries the highest number of indebted student borrowers per capita with 17.2% of residents in debt. Hawaii has the lowest rate, with 8.4% of its residents in debt.
Under the Biden administration, roughly $17 billion in federal student loan debt has been canceled for some 725,000 borrowers. Last week, the Department of Education announced another $238 million in student loan relief for roughly 28,000 borrowers defrauded by Marinello Schools of Beauty.
Biden recently extended the payment moratorium on federal student loans through August. Pressure continues to grow for more debt forgiveness as the end of the payment moratorium and midterm elections near.