Student Loan Debt Resources

Andrew Smalley 4/17/2020

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Student loan debt continues to impose significant financial burdens on millions of students and borrowers as well as creating a substantial impact on the larger U.S. economy.

Student Loan Debt Statistics

  • In 2019, total student loan debt held by U.S. borrowers climbed to over $1.6 trillion.
  • More than 44 million Americans owe a balance on a student loan, with the average borrower owing more than $25,000.
  • 54% of students took on some form of debt to pay for their education in 2018.
  • 92% of student loans are Federal student loans.

Economic Impacts

  • The typical monthly student loan payment is between $200-300.
  • A Federal Reserve report estimates that 20% of the decline in homeownership among young adults can be attributed to increased student loan debt.
  • Another Federal Reserve Report found that student loan debt has a negative effect on small business formation and growth.
  • A 2018 survey found that 80% of people with student loan debt have delayed saving for retirement because of that debt.

State Action

In 2019, NCSL tracked nearly 300 bills related to student loan debt. In 2020, NCSL is tracking more than 240 bills related to student loan debt. These bills are available in the NCSL Postsecondary Bill Tracking Database.

States are seeking strategies to mitigate the negative effects of student loan debt. These efforts include developing new oversight provisions for loan borrowers and loan servicers as well as repayment assistance and forgiveness plans. Explore these issues in the webpages below.  

Student Loan Oversight 

Several states have enacted legislation to create new regulations and consumer protections regarding student loan lending, borrowing and repayment. These bills expand student loan oversight to include requirements for student loan servicers and create a student loan ombudsman to oversee servicers and assist borrowers. Since 2015, 13 states have passed legislation to expand student loan oversight.

Visit the webpage.

Student Loan Forgiveness 

States have also explored creating and expanding student loan forgiveness programs, which offer partial or complete loan relief for borrowers who work in certain professions and meet certain criteria. In 2019, legislators in 18 states enacted more than 30 bills relating to student loan forgiveness programs.

Visit the webpage.

Other Student Loan Legislation 

States have also addressed student loan debt challenges with other legislation, including: 

  • Bills that offer tax credits/deductions to borrowers or businesses that offer to pay or forgive student loans. 
  • Bills that modify licensure suspension and other consequences for borrowers who default.

Additional examples of bills related to student loans are available in the NCSL Postsecondary Bill Tracking Database

Additional Resources