These Are The Cities with The Most (and Least) Student Loan Debt 2021

ElitePersonalFinance
Last Update: June 5, 2021 Living Studies
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Do you know how much student debt there is in your town?

Each year, Americans seem to set a record for student debt. Now, this figure stands at over $1.5 trillion, with more than 44 million total borrowers.

This is partly a result of the fact that more and more young Americans choose to attend college. Again, this is rather reasonable since a bachelor’s degree improves the likelihood of having a decent life ‒ it is worth as much as $2.8 million over a lifetime. Apart from increasing lifetime earnings, a bachelor’s degree decreases the risk of unemployment and increases life expectancy by ten years.

According to a LendingTree study conducted in 100 metropolitan areas, the median balance in student borrowers ranges from $22,803 to $17,928.

Surprisingly, people who live in the Southeast have the most student debt. Nine of the ten cities on the list with the most debt are located below the Mason-Dixon line.

However, an interesting fact is that people with big student loan debt tend to move to cities with government and nonprofit jobs. Maybe this happens because these positions are likely to lead to public service loan forgiveness.

George W. Bush established the loan forgiveness program in 2007. This program allows student loan borrowers who get a job in the government or non-profit sector to clear their remaining debt after ten years of timely payments.

10 Cities with Most Student Debt

This is a list of the 10 cities with the most student debt.

10. Charleston, South Carolina

The average number of loans: 3.9

Median balance: $20,469

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 24.4%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 7.0%

9. Columbia, South Carolina

The average number of loans: 3.9

Median balance: $20,560

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 23.3%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 7.9%

8. Jackson, Mississippi

The average number of loans: 4

Median balance: $20,650

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 24.8%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 8.7%

7. Birmingham, Alabama

The average number of loans: 3.6

Median balance: $20,679

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 24.2%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 7.7%

6. Little Rock, Arkansas

The average number of loans: 3.8

Median balance: $21,031

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 25.9%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 7.6%

5. Akron, Ohio

The average number of loans: 3.5

Median balance: $21,037

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 23.0%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 6.5%

A ‘manufacturing hot spot,’ Akron has many chemists, many of them graduates of the University of Akron.

4. Raleigh, North Carolina

The average number of loans: 3.7

Median balance: $21,357

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 22.9%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 8.7%

As much as 44% of Raleigh residents have a bachelor’s degree, while 16% of them have an advanced degree. Also, Duke University and the University of North Carolina are located near this city.

3. Richmond, Virginia

The average number of loans: 3.8

Median balance: $21,915

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 23.9%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 7.7%

As home to several federal institutions, Richmond ‘requires’ its residents to have higher education. 13% of people living in this city have a professional or graduate degree.

2. Atlanta, Georgia

The average number of loans: 3.8

Median balance: $22,232

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 26.0%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 9.1%

Almost 40% of this city residents have completed at least a four-year education far above the national average.

1. Washington, DC

The average number of loans: 3.4

Median balance: $22,803

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 25.8%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 9.8%

It is only logical that student debt is heavily concentrated in the D.C. area. One in four people living in this city has professional and graduate degrees, while one in two people over the age of 25 has a post-secondary degree, compared to only 30% in the entire US.

10 Cities with Least Student Debt

To show the difference between the cities with the most and the least student loan debt, we will also show the other side ‒ ten cities with the least student debt.

10. San Jose, California

The average number of loans: 3

Median balance: $15,273

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 17.2%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 6.3%

9. Provo, Utah

The average number of loans: 3.6

Median balance: $15,244

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 20.4%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 5.8%

8. Ogden, Utah

The average number of loans: 3.3

Median balance: $15,244

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 18.3%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 4.8%

7. Salt Lake City, Utah

The average number of loans: 3.3

Median balance: $15,165

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 16.8%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 5.2%

6. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

The average number of loans: 3.3

Median balance: $15,056

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 16.5%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 3.9%

5. Providence, Rhode Island

The average number of loans: 3.1

Median balance: $15,025

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 14.0%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 4.0%

4. Bakersfield, California

The average number of loans: 3.1

Median balance: $14,656

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 15.8%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 4.8%

3. Springfield, Massachusetts

The average number of loans: 2.9

Median balance: $14,615

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 14.5%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 4.8%

2. Fresno, California

The average number of loans: 3.1

Median balance: $13,808

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 15.9%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 4.4%

1. McAllen, Texas

The average number of loans: 2.8

Median balance: $13,017

% of borrowers owing more than $50,000: 14.4%

% of borrowers owing more than $100,000: 3.3%

Except for Akron, Ohio, all cities with the highest student loan debt are located in the South. High levels of median debt in the South can be a result of various factors. Some of them are lower-income, less parental wealth and support, as well as lower scholarships. Finally, students in the South more frequently attend for-profit colleges, which have significantly lower graduation rates and higher loan default rates.

But low student debt is not necessarily a good thing since it can indicate low college attendance. This is obvious in McAllen’s example, which has the least debt and educational attainment below average.

How to Pay off Student Debt Successfully?

  • Ensure you inform the lender that you want to apply for extra payments above your minimum payment to principal only (not to next month) to limit the interest.
  • If you fail to give this instruction, the lender will automatically hold the excess payment and process it with next month’s payment. This way, you will pay more interest.
  • Try to pay some extra money each month, for example, $100. If you manage to apply this money to reducing principal, you may save a lot of money on interest. It doesn’t have to be as much as $100, but any amount you have.
  • What if you could make a lump-sum payment? This would save you both time and money. So, if you have some money on the side, make sure to direct it toward lump-sum payments.
  • Refinancing a loan can be a perfect option in this case. In fact, this is the best way to lower your rate when it comes to student loans. This will allow you to choose between variable and fixed rates and also loan terms. If you want to improve your chances of getting such a loan, apply to multiple lenders at the same time.
  • Public service loan forgiveness is also one of the most effective methods to reduce student loan debt. And even though this program may soon see its end (at least in its current form), Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness are still available to some individuals.

Conclusion

And while both students and those who graduated a long time ago struggle to repay their student loans, we can analyze and advise what we can do.

Again, even if you have high student loan debt, this does not mean that you are worse off than someone who has no student debt at all. In the long run, you will probably repay your debt and earn more money in your life, which is a direct result of your education.

We hope this article will be useful to you, especially the section on how to repay your student loan successfully. Those few tricks will help you find a way to work together with your lender toward reaching the best compromise for both sides.

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