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.
- Borrowing levels vary significantly by institution type, in 2015 31% of students at public schools completed a bachelor’s degree without any debt, while just 13% of students at for-profit institutions graduated without a loan balance.
- 92% of student loans are Federal student loans.
Individual Economic Impacts
- The typical monthly student loan payment is between $200-300.
- 58% of student loan borrowers reported a decline in their credit score related to their student loan debt.
- 80% of people with student loan debt have delayed saving for retirement because of that debt. Young adults with student loans accumulate on average, 50% less retirement wealth by age 30 than adults without an outstanding loan balance.
Larger Economic Impacts
- A Federal Reserve report estimates that 20% of the decline in homeownership among young adults can be attributed to increased student loan debt.
- A Federal Reserve Report found that student loan debt has a negative effect on small business formation and growth.
In 2019, NCSL tracked nearly 300 bills related to student loan debt. In 2020, NCSL is tracking more than 250 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.
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.
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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.
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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.