US Cities With the Most and Least Student Debt

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At the end of the first quarter of this year, the Federal Reserve Bank reported that total U.S. student loan debt topped $1.4 trillion, more than U.S. credit card debt and second only to home mortgages among U.S. households. And as more students pursue a post-secondary education and the costs of that education increase, student debt continues to pile up.

The hardest hit is the millennial generation, 18 to 34 year-olds, some of whom dedicate as much as 18% of their incomes to paying off their student loans. A 2016 report from Citizen’s Bank noted that many millennials expect to be paying student loan debts into their 40s.

Student loan debt does not affect everyone in the same way, however. In some cities, loan levels are high and salaries are low. The reverse is true in other cities. Researchers at personal finance website WalletHub divided the median student loan balance by the median earnings of adults older than 25 with a bachelor’s degree in nearly 2,000 U.S. cities. The research excludes cities in surrounding metropolitan areas. Cities were scored on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 representing those with the lowest scores and 100 those with the highest.

A total of 30 cities scored 99 and we’re listing here the 10 cities where the ratio of debt to salaries was highest. We’ve also included median student debt and median earnings from the WalletHub report.

  1. Ypsilanti, Michigan: median debt, $24,339; median earnings, $28,558; ratio, 85.23%
  2. Bloomington, Indiana: debt, $20,804; earnings, $26,788; ratio, 77.66%
  3. Hamtramck, Michigan: debt, $19,680; earnings, $26,902; ratio, 73.15%
  4. Athens, Georgia: debt, $22,471; earnings, $30,880; ratio, 72.77%
  5. Park Forest, Illinois: debt, $27,349; earnings, $37,734; ratio, 72.48%
  6. Orange City, Florida: debt, $19,357; earnings, $27,153; ratio, 72.19%
  7. Portsmouth, Ohio: debt, $19,415; earnings, $27,270; ratio, 71.19%
  8. Loma Linda, California: debt, $35,885; earnings, $50,822; ratio, 70.61%
  9. College Park, Georgia: debt, $27,846; earnings,$39,489; ratio, 70.61%
  10. Coos Bay, Oregon: debt, $22,232; earnings, $31,635; ratio, 70.28%

Of the 30 cities with the lowest student debt-to-earnings ratio, the 10 lowest are listed here.

  1. Gilroy, California: debt, $12,297; earnings, $78,558; ratio, 15.65%
  2. Winchester, Massachusetts: debt, $14,344; earnings, $86,446; ratio, 16.59%
  3. Santa Paula, California: debt, $11,462; earnings, $67,835; ratio, 16.90%
  4. Elko, Nevada: debt, $10,575; earnings, $61,569; ratio, 17.18%
  5. Sammamish, Washington: debt, $17,559; earnings, $98,032; ratio, 17.91%
  6. Greensburg, Indiana: debt, $9,678; earnings, $50,466; ratio, 19.18%
  7. Lincoln, California: debt, $12,696; earnings, $64,738; ratio, 19.61%
  8. Lake Jackson, Texas: debt, $13,523; earnings, $67,125; ratio, 20.15%
  9. Sunnyvale, California: debt, $16,967; earnings, $83,737; ratio, 20.26%
  10. San Juan, Texas: debt, $9,374; earnings, $46,214; ratio 20.28%

For a complete, searchable listing of all the cities included in the study, visit the WalletHub website.