These States Have the Highest Student Debt Per Borrower, New Study Shows

A new study confirms that America’s youth are ‘drowning in debt,’ and student loans are a major culprit.
These States Have the Highest Student Debt Per Borrower, New Study Shows
Students earning degrees at Pasadena City College participate in the graduation ceremony in Pasadena, Calif., on June 14, 2019. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
Patricia Tolson
According to an updated Degree Choices analysis of student loan debt per borrower by state, America’s youth are “drowning in debt, and student loans are a major culprit.”

With an average of $43,116 per borrower, Maryland is the state with the highest level of student debt. With 851,200 borrowers, Maryland’s total student debt level sits at approximately $36.7 billion.

Georgia, with an average debt of $41,775 per borrower spread across 1.69 million borrowers, placed second. Georgia’s total student debt stands at $70.6 billion.

Virginia placed third. With an average debt of $39,599 spread across 1.1 million borrowers, the state’s total student debt is about $43.8 billion.

In fourth place is Florida. With an average debt of $38,683 spread across 2.72 million total borrowers, the state’s total student debt sits at $105.4 billion.

Rounding out the top five states with the most student loan debt is South Carolina. With an average student debt of $38,360 spread across its 758,600 borrowers, the total student debt is about $29.1 billion.

Benefits and Risks of College Education

David Levy, a writer and content producer for Degree Choices, said in a statement that 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.

“Depending on the type of loan taken out and how quickly graduates pay it back, the interest on these loans can accrue rapidly, potentially resulting in paying back a lot more than what was initially taken out,” he said.

“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,” he said further. “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.”

Mr. Levy told The Epoch Times he would give the following advice to students who currently hold student loan debt.

“If you haven’t already, check to see if you qualify for an income-driven repayment,” he offered. “Not only do these plans cap your payment at 10 or sometimes 15 percent of disposable income, but any debt remaining after 20 years is forgiven, provided you have continued paying the minimum amount required by your repayment plan.”

For those considering the burden of a student loan as a means of getting a higher-paying job, he suggests: “Do the research and check the median earnings of graduates with your target degree.”

“Earnings can vary greatly between schools and programs, and sometimes even schools with sterling reputations have programs that underperform,” he explained, saying, “This is also the case with graduate schools.”

“The absence of borrowing limits on Grad Plus loans has had the unintended consequence of incentivizing schools to increase tuition costs, at times to levels that are completely disconnected with future earnings of program graduates,” he said.

Research by Sandra Black, Lesley Turner, and Jeffrey Denning, published in May for the National Bureau of Economic Research, confirmed that introducing unlimited graduate lending inspired universities and colleges to increase graduate tuition, therefore increasing the amount of graduate student loans while simultaneously shifting “a portion of graduate borrowing from private to federal sources.”

The study found post-baccalaureate programs increased tuition by a similar rate to the amount borrowing increased.

The study also exposed that Grad Plus encouraged schools to engage in “price discrimination,” alleging there was “suggestive evidence that the increases in grant aid was larger for white and API students than for Black or Hispanic students.”

Other Options

Asked whether some should consider applying to a trade school rather than a university or college, Mr. Levy said yes.

“There are many reasons why students should consider a traditional 4-year college, many of which have nothing to do with earning potential post-graduation,” he said. “If your primary concern is employability and earning potential, then it makes sense to also consider attending trade school. Certain programs have very high relative earnings, while requiring less time and money to complete training.”

Regarding the new trend of employers seeking skills over degrees when hiring, Mr. Levy said he thinks it’s long overdue.

“Degree inflation—in which degrees are required for jobs that don’t really warrant the completion of a degree, and previously did not require them—have had a negative effect on lower-income demographics,” he said. “Hopefully the move towards skill-based recruitment will go some of the way towards righting the ship, both in the private sector as well as in the public realm.”

Patricia Tolson, an award-winning national investigative reporter with 20 years of experience, has worked for such news outlets as Yahoo!, U.S. News, and The Tampa Free Press. With The Epoch Times, Patricia’s in-depth investigative coverage of human interest stories, election policies, education, school boards, and parental rights has achieved international exposure. Send her your story ideas: [email protected]
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