States with the Most and Least Student Debt in 2017

Student Loans

Location, location, location are the three most important words in real estate. But the mantra applies to education, too. Indeed, where you live doesn’t just affect the value of your property; it also reflects the worth of your college degree — the same degree that may have put you in debt. With 11 percent of all student-loan debts in delinquency or default as of Q1 2017, graduates need to be selective with the places in which they choose to put their degrees to work. New York City, for instance, might boast a high average salary for a certain profession, but the high cost of living can outweigh the gains, leaving little to pay off college debt.

Save for mortgages, student loans make up the largest component of household debt for Americans. And our collective debt keeps growing. At the end of the first quarter of 2017, total outstanding college-loan balances disclosed on credit reports stood at $1.34 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The latest figure represents an increase of $34 billion since the end of 2016.

Despite the evidence that income potential rises and chances of joblessness decline with more schooling, many graduates entering the labor market are learning the hard way that a college degree can’t guarantee financial security. Post-college success depends on numerous factors, including where a graduate lays down roots. Student-loan borrowers generally fare better in strong-economy states with low college-debt-to-income ratios.

With student-loan debtors in mind, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 10 key measures of indebtedness and earning opportunities. Our data set ranges from average student debt to unemployment rate among the population aged 25 to 34 to share of students with past-due loan balances. Read on for our findings, expert insight from a panel of researchers and a full description of our methodology.

Tip: If you’re considering borrowing money for college or are in danger of defaulting, we advise leveraging a Student Loan Calculator to determine an affordable monthly payment and payoff timeline.

Overall Rank* State Total Score ‘Student-Loan Indebtedness’ Rank ‘Grant & Student Work Opportunities’ Rank
1 Ohio 64.25 3 20
2 Mississippi 64.14 5 5
3 Pennsylvania 64.05 4 19
4 West Virginia 62.92 8 1
5 New Hampshire 62.83 2 39
6 South Dakota 62.35 1 49
7 Michigan 60.02 9 16
8 Minnesota 59.67 6 42
9 Iowa 58.42 7 36
10 Indiana 56.73 10 30
11 Idaho 56.66 11 27
12 Georgia 55.81 12 34
13 Missouri 55.41 13 29
14 Illinois 55.03 15 25
15 South Carolina 54.17 17 18
16 Kansas 54.15 16 31
17 Delaware 53.31 18 22
18 Wisconsin 53.23 19 17
19 Vermont 52.62 14 45
20 Kentucky 52.43 21 11
21 District of Columbia 50.92 25 15
22 Tennessee 50.77 27 10
23 Alabama 50.01 34 2
24 Maine 49.90 20 47
25 Connecticut 49.87 24 28
26 New Mexico 49.26 31 6
27 Rhode Island 49.08 22 38
28 Oregon 48.97 28 32
29 Montana 48.86 30 23
30 Arkansas 48.84 29 24
31 North Carolina 48.54 32 7
32 New Jersey 47.71 26 41
33 Nebraska 46.38 33 33
34 Massachusetts 46.23 23 48
35 Arizona 43.85 39 12
36 Texas 43.35 35 35
37 Oklahoma 43.09 40 21
38 Louisiana 42.69 44 3
39 Florida 42.04 42 13
40 New York 41.01 38 44
41 Colorado 40.22 36 46
42 Virginia 39.78 41 43
43 Maryland 39.32 43 40
44 North Dakota 37.98 37 51
45 Washington 36.68 45 9
46 Alaska 35.20 46 8
47 Nevada 32.92 47 4
48 California 31.60 48 14
49 Wyoming 27.71 49 26
50 Utah 15.83 51 37
51 Hawaii 14.44 50 50

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