A new study reveals that Maryland has the highest student debt per borrower, at an average of $43,116, followed closely by Georgia at $41,775.
While many aspire to higher education, attaining it often involves an unforeseen financial burden. As more and more people leave college and universities with significant student loan debts, many struggle to pay them back.
Higher education research group Degree Choices analyzed data from the Office of Federal Student Aid to determine which states had the highest average student debt per borrower. Here are the findings.
Maryland tops the list of states with the highest student debt per borrower, with an average debt of $43,116. In total, Maryland’s student debt stands at $36.7 billion across 851,200 borrowers.
The state with the second highest student debt per borrower is Georgia, with an average debt of $41,775. Georgia’s total student debt of $70.6 billion is spread across 1.69 million borrowers.
Virginia has the third highest amount of student debt per borrower. The state’s total student debt is $43.8 billion spread across 1.1 million borrowers, equating to an average student debt of $39,599.
With an average debt of $38,683, Florida has the fourth highest student debt per borrower. Florida has 2.72 million total borrowers, while the state’s total student debt is $105.4 billion.
The state with the fifth highest student debt per borrower is South Carolina, with an average student debt of $38,360. The state’s total student debt is $29.1 billion across 758,600 borrowers.
Student Loan Repayment Is A Struggle
David Levy at Degree Choices says, “College can be a very valuable investment, but at the same time, it can often require students to take out large loans to cover their education costs.” Levy points out that interest on student loans can accrue rapidly depending on the type of loan taken out, which can result in paying back a lot more than what was initially borrowed.
Amanda Kay, Employment Specialist, shares how she had to file for bankruptcy because she couldn’t repay her student loans. “After more than ten years of paying back my student loan debt, I only paid off about 40% of it. I worked two jobs, never went on vacations, lived in a gross apartment, and even postponed my wedding to pay off this debt. But that wasn’t even enough to keep up with the interest payments. So, I reluctantly looked into filing for bankruptcy. Because I live in Canada and graduated more than seven years prior, I could include this debt when filing, and that’s what I did. Although I’m not proud of it, it was my best option.”
Pay Off Student Loans Faster
While student loan debts might seem like a hurdle that’s impossible to get through, many can pay it off. Abbie Clark of Ride Rambler recently paid off her student loans and offer these tips:
- Start making payments on the loan during the grace period. Payments usually don’t start until six months after you graduate. When you make payments during the grace period, interest has yet to accrue, meaning your payments go directly to the principal.
- If you can afford it, pay more than the minimum payment due each month.
- Pay the loan off as quickly as possible. This is easier said than done, but the longer you pay on the loan, the more you’ll pay towards interest, not the principal.
Tips For Those Still In School
For those still in school, here is what Brittany Ann says helped her reduce her student loans: “One way that I reduced my student loan debt was by simply not buying textbooks. Thankfully, my teachers typically covered the material in class or gave us handouts, and I had a roommate who planned to keep the books and was willing to share. This wouldn’t work for every major at every school, but it saved me hundreds if not thousands.”
For Prospective Students
Levy suggests planning ahead for prospective students aspiring to learn through traditional universities. “Prospective students planning to take out a loan would be wise to weigh up the likely amount of time they will need to pay it back,” Levy says. “Considering your degree’s overall return on investment can avoid a situation where you are lumped with student debt that you simply cannot afford to repay after graduating.”
There are many creative ways to get a higher education without the financial burden. For example, serving the country can help you attend college for free. Jen Barnett of Expatsi says, “The GI Bill is one of the oldest ways to attend college for free. After serving for at least 36 months, military members become eligible for the full educational benefits. For public schools and community colleges, that means the full price of tuition and fees.”
Planning for higher education and striving for good grades while still in highschool also helps. Ashley Pichea shares what her daughter plans on doing to avoid student loans altogether. “With a current high school senior looking at a private 4-year institution next year, avoiding and minimizing student debt is a frequent topic of discussion at our house. We’re getting creative with scholarship applications, taking advantage of work-study opportunities while still in high school, and increasing her test scores and GPA to qualify for higher merit awards from her school of choice. She also plans to work part-time in college, to graduate with little to no student debt.”