New report highlights average graduate student debt by state, and other current student loan news for the week of Nov. 29, 2021

Photo by Adobe Stock, Illustration by Bankrate
Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for .

The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) released its 16th annual student debt report, which covers average debt for 2020 graduates by state. The report highlights the average debt disparity between Western and Northeastern states, with the former tending towards lower rates of student debt and lower debt amounts on average. This week’s trend may not directly impact current student loans — but it could have an affect on future policies.

1 current trend within student loans for the week of Nov. 29, 2021

1. Data shows class of 2020 graduates from the Western and Mountain states are likely to have less student debt than Northeastern state counterparts

TICAS released its 2021 report on student debt. Data from the report shows averages ranging from $18,350 in Utah to just under $40,000 in New Hampshire. The likelihood of a class of 2020 graduate having debt also has a wide range. Utah comes in at the low end again with 39 percent, while the high end is 73 percent in South Dakota.

To get a good idea of how geographically split the debt is, here are the top five states with the highest and lowest average student loan debt:

  • High-debt states: New Hampshire ($39,928), Delaware ($39,705), Pennsylvania ($39,375), Rhode Island ($36,791) and Connecticut ($35,853).
  • Low-debt states: Utah ($18,344), New Mexico ($20,868), California ($21,125), Nevada ($21,357) and Wyoming ($23,510).

According to the report, student debt is lower at public universities and colleges than private nonprofit and for-profit colleges — but that doesn’t mean the amount of graduates with student debt is a low figure. Data shows that 75 percent of participating public institutions reported over 50 percent of students graduated with student debt, and 17 percent reported more than 75 percent of graduates left with loans.

The report relies on volunteer reporting from colleges, and covers 80 percent of 2020 graduates. Averages do not include for-profit colleges and universities due to the lack of data on debt reported by these institutions.

How this affects student loans

With high levels of income loss and continued economic uncertainty, TICAS recommends federal protection be extended to borrowers when COVID-19 emergency benefits end on January 31, 2022. It also recommends an increase in need-based aid and calls for better protection of borrowers with private student debt. On an institutional level, TICAS makes several recommendations around counseling and the promotion of existing programs that can help students find aid.

Key takeaway
TICAS data emphasizes disparity in student loan debt among states and demonstrates need for borrower protections.

Here’s how you can get prepared

Whether you’re new to student loans or well into repayment, it’s wise to stay informed about how your student loan rates could change. As 2021 continues, more opportunities for cheaper loans or loan forgiveness could open up; keep an eye on the Bankrate student loans news hub for the latest trends.

Learn more: