Vermont senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders unveiled today a plan to eliminate all outstanding student loan debt in the United States. Student loan debt is a growing crisis, hitting an all time high of $1.5 trillion in 2019 and overtaking auto loans and credit card debt in the last decade. Today, more than 44 million Americans, or one in five adults, are saddled with student loan debt.
Though there are millions of Americans well into their 60s still paying off student loans, the problem is most pronounced among recent graduates. Some 58% of graduates from the class of 2017 are carrying debt, with debt averaging a staggering $28,288.
According to data from LendEDU, a financial product information website, student debt is not uniform across the country. In some states, recent graduates have nearly double the debt of recent graduates in other states. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the average student debt among borrowers of the class of 2017 to identify the states where students graduate with the most debt.
Student debt burdens can have serious consequences, impacting both the borrower and society at large. Student debt has caused over a quarter of borrowers to wait to get married, over a third to wait to start a family, and over half to delay saving for retirement and buying a home, according to LendEDU.
As the crisis grows more urgent, proposals to address the issue are also becoming more common. Some high-profile lawmakers, including Sanders, have called for outright debt forgiveness, and the Treasury Department has recommended mandatory financial literacy courses for college students. Some of the states investing the most in higher education in the form of low-tuition public universities and loan programs are among the states with the lowest average debt.
While southern states struggle the most with credit card debt, student loan debt tends to be concentrated in the Northeast.