2022 Student Loan Statistics: Impact Of Student Debt On Job Market

By Kathy Morris
Jun. 27, 2022
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Cite This Webpage Zippia. "2022 Student Loan Statistics: Impact Of Student Debt On Job Market" Zippia.com. Jun. 27, 2022, https://www.zippia.com/advice/student-loan-statistics/

Research Summary: More and more, Americans need at least a Bachelor’s Degree to succeed in the job market. However, as college becomes more necessary, it’s also been becoming progressively more expensive. That’s where student loans come in.

So, to understand exactly how much student loans are effecting not only Americans, but also the U.S. economy as a whole, here are some insights our research uncovered:

  • As of 2022, total student loan debt in the U.S. has reached $1.75 trillion

  • There are currently 45 million federal student loan borrowers in the U.S.

  • As of 2022, average student loan debt per person in the U.S. has reached $32,731.

  • The average monthly student loan payment is $393.

  • It takes the average American 20 years to repay their student loans.

For further analysis, we broke down the data in the following ways:
Key Findings | Total | Average | State | Demographics | Hardships And Repayment | Impact On Career And Life Choices
average student loans in the U.S. 2022

Key Findings

  • 92% of student loans are through the federal government.

  • According to the Urban Institute, 48% of student debt is held by households with graduate or other professional degrees.

  • Dental school graduates have an average debt of 292,169, making them the most debt laden professional degree, followed by medical school at $201,490.

  • Average state student loan debts range from $29,200 in North Dakota to $55,400 in DC.

  • Only 35% of the U.S. population has a college degree.

  • 35-to-49 year olds have the highest average student loans at $42,373.23 per borrower.

  • 8 million borrowers over 50 still owe significant student loan debt even as they near or exceed retirement age.

  • The average Black borrower owes 71.5% more than their White counterparts ($32,047 for Black borrowers compared to only $18,685 for white borrowers).

  • 20% of student loan borrowers are in default, with college-dropouts responsible for 63% of those defaults.

  • First-generation college students are 2.7 times more likely to default on college debt than students whose parents have achieved higher education.

  • 54% of respondents feel their career has been hindered by student loans.

  • Over one third of student loan holders have held multiple jobs or worked additional hours due to student loans.

  • 50% workers with student debt have delayed or decided against further education due to student debt.

Total Student Loan Debt

Total federal student loan borrowers: 45 million

Total outstanding federal student loan debt: $1.75 trillion

92% of student loans, according to a June 2020 report by MeasureOne, are through the federal government. Unfortunately, this means 8% of loans are through private lenders. Private lenders often have higher interest and these loans are not eligible for income-based repayment or federal loan forgiveness.

Average Student Loan Debt

Sixty-two percent of the class of 2019 graduated with student debt, according to the most recent data available from The Institute for College Access Success. Among these graduates, the average student loan debt was $28,950.

Students who pursue post-college education can expect to rack up even more debt. According to the Urban Institute, 48% of student debt is held by households with graduate or other professional degrees.

  • Average Medical School Debt: $201,490

  • Average Dental School Debt: $292,169

  • Average Pharmacy School Debt: $179,514

  • Average Veterinary School Debt: $149,877

  • Average Graduate School Debt: $82,800

  • Average Law School Debt: $145,500

You can see a more in-depth breakdown of student loan debt by state below.

Student Loan Debt By State

Student loans are not evenly distributed across the country. Students in some states are burdened with more student loans than others.

In particular, DC students have higher loans than the rest of the country, with an average $55,400 in student loan debt. North Dakota residents have the least amount of student loans on at “only” $29,200.

Student Loan Debt By State

State Average Borrower Debt Total Student Debt
Alabama $37,100 $22.2 Billion
Alaska $33,600 $2.2 Billion
Arizona $34,100 $29.5 Billion
Arkansas $33,300 $12.3 Billion
California $36,400 $138 Billion
Colorado $35,800 $27.2 Billion
Connecticut $34,900 $16.3 Billion
Delaware $37,000 $4.4 Billion
Florida $39,700 $94.3 Billion
Georgia $41,500 $64.6 Billion
Hawaii $36,500 $4.3 Billion
Idaho $32,600 $6.8 Billion
Illinois $37,600 $59 Billion
Indiana $32,800 $28.7 Billion
Iowa $30,500 $12.8 Billion
Kansas $32,500 $12 Billion
Kentucky $32,500 $18.7 Billion
Louisiana $34,400 $21.1 Billion
Maine $32,500 $5.8 Billion
Maryland $42,700 $34.2 Billion
Massachusetts $34,100 $29.2 Billion
Michigan $35,900 $49.3 Billion
Minnesota $33,400 $25.5 Billion
Mississippi $36,700 $15.4 Billion
Missouri $35,400 $28.4 Billion
Montana $33,300 $4 Billion
Nebraska $32,100 $7.6 Billion
Nevada $33,600 $11 Billion
New Hampshire $36,700 $6.1 Billion
New Jersey $35,100 $39.8 Billion
New Mexico $33,600 $7.4 Billion
New York $37,800 $89.2 Billion
North Carolina $37,500 $45.9 Billion
North Dakota $29,200 $2.4 Billion
Ohio $34,600 $14.6 Billion
Oklahoma $31,500 $19.5 Billion
Oregon $36,900 $61.5 Billion
Pennsylvania $35,400 $4.3 Billion
Rhode Island $31,800 $26.3 Billion
South Carolina $38,300 $3.4 Billion
South Dakota $31,100 $29.6 Billion
Tennessee $36,200 $111.3 Billion
Texas $32,800 $9.4 Billion
Utah $32,200 $2.7 Billion
Vermont $36,700 $40.3 Billion
Virginia $39,000 $26.7 Billion
Washington $35,000 $6.9 Billion
West Virginia $31,800 $22.3 Billion
Wisconsin $31,800 $1.6 Billion
Wyoming $31,000 $1.6 Billion

Student Loan Demographics: Loans By Age, Race, And Income

Student loans are not uniformly experienced by the population. Not only have student loans increased over the past two decades, but only 35% of the population has achieved a college degree.

Student Loans By Age

Age Average Student Loans Loans Owed (In Billions) Borrowers (In Millions)
24 and younger $14,807 $115B 7M
25 to 34 $33,817 $500B 14M
35 to 49 $42,373 $601B 14M
50 to 61 $42,290 $262B 6M
62 and older $37,739 $86B 2M

35 to 49 year olds owe the biggest amount of student loans in sheer volume at 601 billion spread across 14 million borrowers. This averages out to about $42,373.23 in loans per borrower. 25 to 34 year olds have a similar number of borrowers, but less average debt. Perhaps they (and the those under 24) are still accumulating student loan debt.

Student Loan Debt By Families’ Household Income

Income Level Percent With No Student Loan Debt
Less than $35,000 per year 25%
$35,000 to $69,999 per year 26%
$70,000 to $119,999 30%
$120,000 or more 41%

In general, students coming from families with less income are more likely to carry student loan debt. Those who come from more advantaged backgrounds have higher chances of entering the workforce unburdened by student debt and more open to available to explore opportunities.

However, a majority of students from all households still carry debt upon graduation.

Student Debt By Household Income

Income Level Average Student Debt Balance
Less than $27,000 per year $26,000
$27,001 to $52,000 per year $34,200
$52,001 to $97,000 per year $34,700
$97,001 to $173,000 per year $41,200
$173,001 or more per year $46,700

Interestingly, while students from higher earning families are less likely to have loans, those that do carry more debt. Higher income households spend more on education- even when that means student loans.

Student Loans By Race

Race Average Student Loan Balance
Black $32,047
White $18,685
Hispanic $15,583
Other $12,935

Black student loan borrowers have significantly higher balances than white or Hispanic borrowers. The above chart is a breakdown of average student loan debt breaks down by race for student loan borrowers between 25 and 55 who took out loans for themselves. Black borrowers owe an average $32,047 compared to only $18,685 for white borrowers.

Student Loan Hardships And Repayment

Shockingly, 62% of seniors graduating in 2019 still had student loan debt.

With an average student loan amount just under $30,000, that is the equivalent of a healthy nonpayment on a home, a brand new Audi, and a year of median individual income in many small, rural towns. Unsurprisingly, not all students are able to pay back their debts.

The U.S. Department of Education reports about 20 percent of borrowers are in default, having gone at least 270 days without a payment. More than one million loans go into default each year.

Who is most likely to default on student loans?

  • College-drops out are responsible for 63% of student loan defaults.

  • First-generation college students are 2.7 times more likely to default on college debt than students whose parents have achieved higher education.

See: How much in student loans can I afford?

Student Loans Impact On Career And Life Choices

In addition to causing personal financial hardships, student loans impact the job market and cause holders to delay traditional life milestones. From working multiple jobs to working less than desirable jobs unrelated to their degree, many job seekers feel the pressure to pay off their mountain of student debt.

Therefore, to better understand how student loans are influencing career choices, we surveyed 500 workers with student debt. You can read a more in depth breakdown of our findings and methodology below:

Quick Facts

  • 54% of respondents feel their career has been hindered by student loans.

  • Over one third of student loan holders have held multiple jobs or worked additional hours due to student loans.

  • 25% work outside of their chosen field due to debt obligations.
  • 1-in-2 workers with student debt have delayed or decided against further education due to student debt.

Student Loans Influence Career Choices

Above you can see respondents answers to the question, “How have student loans ever impacted your career choices? (Choose all that apply).”

Nearly 38% have at some point in their career worked multiple jobs to help chip away at their student loans. Similarly, 34% have worked more hours due to their debt, and 25% have now work outside the field they went into debt to enter.

Ultimately, it is easy to see that no small number of workers with student loans find their choices limited by debt.

However, careers are not the only important life event impacted. Many struggle to accomplish other life milestones due to the financial burden of their student debt. Below we highlight the percent of respondents by debt level and their responses to a series of questions.

Impact Of Student Debt On Further Education

Signing up for more debt when you struggle to pay your current debt is unsurprisingly a strong deterrent. According to our survey, 1-in-2 workers with student debt have delayed or decided against further education due to student debt.

However, in some fields higher education is necessary to advance or obtain higher salaries. While students may be making astute assessments of how much debt they can afford, others may simply not be in a place to make a pricy investment in their future earnings.

Impact Of Student Debt On Homeownership

Homeownership may be a staple of the American dream, but it comes with a price tag. Not only does a high monthly loan make it difficult to save for a down payment, but high debt can also make getting approved for a home loan impossible.

Overall, homeownership was one of the most delayed life milestones due to student loans. Those with student loans over $100,000 were most likely to say student loans had delayed homeownership.

Impact Of Student Debt On Marriage

10% of our respondents have delayed marriage due to student debt. Borrowers with over $100,000 in debt were most likely to delay saying “I do” due to student debt.

Interestingly, marriage can have many tax implications for student loan interest deductions. For example, if you and your spouse together earn more than $160,000, you are no longer eligible for the student loan interest deduction.

However, there are other implications for marriage with high debt, so we cannot say for sure if savvy tax choices are altering couples’ marriage plans.

Impact Of Student Debt On Parenthood

The birthrate is down in America. While student loans probably can’t bear the full responsibility, it is clear that a significant amount of our respondents have at least delayed parenthood due to student debt.

Impact Of Student Debt On Saving For Retirement

Retirement savings is another area where student loans can impact savings’ choices.

In addition to the above issues, we allowed respondents the opportunity to explain how student loans impact them. Below you can see a list of commonly cited issues not represented above.

Other Common Effects

  • Struggle to afford other necessities (housing, medical costs, etc.)

  • Stress, anxiety, and other negative psychological effects

  • Decreased credit

  • Unable to save for children’s future college costs

Student Loans FAQ

  1. Do the rich take out student loans?

    Yes, the rich take out student loans. In fact, nearly one-third of all student loan debt is owed by the wealthiest 20% of households, while only 8% is owned by the bottom 20% of housholds.

    However, this is not to say that the wealthy are burdened more. Typically, households in the top 20% of earners have the income to comfortably pay student loans, while many individuals and families in the bottom 20% face negative consequences. Many of lower-income individuals who graduate college end up working extra hours, working two jobs, or even working in a field unrelated to their major.

  2. Does What percentage of Americans have student loans?

    As of 2022, 12.9% of Americans have student loan debt. That means just under 13% of the U.S. population holds an astonishing $1.75 trillion in collective debt. Even if 12.9% equates to 45 million people, the sheer volume of debt is still staggering.

  3. Does What generation has the most debt?

    Gen X has the most student loan debt in the U.S., at an average of $140,643. For comparison, here are the average debts of other generations in the U.S.:

    • Gen Z: $16,043

    • Millennials: $87,448

    • Baby Boomers: $97,290

Student Loans Can Open Doors, But Close Some

Ultimately, student loans are needed for many students to complete higher education and obtain the career they want. The job market is much often kinder and has more options for those with a college degree.

However, excessive student loans can also lead many workers to have less options due to the burden of paying them back. Career choices can be limited- with job seekers not being in a position to hold out for a better job or negotiate strongly for higher pay.

Overall, while student loans can impact the job market, they also bleed into other life milestones. As one respondent put it, “I might never be a parent because of my student loans. I also can’t purchase a house. I feel stuck in a bad marriage due to not being able to afford living alone.”


Pew Research Center
Georgetown University
Association of American Medical Colleges
American Dental Education Association
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
American Veterinary Medical Association
American Dental Education Association
National Center for Education Statistics
CollegeBoard Trends
CollegeBoard Student Aid Figures
The College Payoff
TICAS Greatest Risk Of Default
TICAS Class Of 2018
TICAS Student Debt Figures
CollegeBoard Resource Library
Saving For College
US Department Of Education
Urban Institute

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Kathy Morris

Kathy is the head of content at Zippia with a knack for engaging audiences. Prior to joining Zippia, Kathy worked at Gateway Blend growing audiences across diverse brands. She graduated from Troy University with a degree in Social Science Education.

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