Which States Have the Highest – and Lowest – Student Debt Levels?
Meghan Brown posted on August 22, 2017 | 1375 views

As a current – or prospective – engineering student, you know the value of data. And given that the amount of debt your degree will leave you with can be a determining factor for where and whether you pursue an engineering education, the more data you have the associated costs, the better.

A recent report by LendEDU entitled the Student Loan Debt by School and by State Report, offers survey data on the average student debt load across the country.  According to the report, the average student borrower in the class of 2016 graduated with $27,975 USD in student loan debt. Interestingly, this is down 1.5 percent from 2015, where the average borrower held $28,400 in debt.

LendEDU’s report was created using the newest Peterson’s financial aid data. Peterson’s released the new data for the Class of 2016 at the start of August 2017. The data was reported through a survey to the colleges and universities listed in the report. The voluntary survey received usable responses from 1,161 institutions across all 50 states.

The report also compares private and public educational institutions, where the researchers found that private institutions left borrowers with an average of $30,281 in student debt at graduation, whereas public institutions left borrowers with an average of $26,828.

The report aims to offer students some transparency on the student loan crisis in the U.S. by highlighting which states and colleges leave graduates with the highest and lowest amounts of student debt upon completion of their program. Educational institutions are ranked on an overall basis, as well as at the state level.

For the 1,161 institutions surveyed in the report, students can see data on:

  • Average student debt per borrower
  • Percentage of graduates with student debt
  • Average private student debt per borrower
  • Percentage of graduates with private student debt
  • Overall rank in the United States (from highest debt amount per borrower to lowest debt amount per borrower)
  • State rank (from highest debt per borrower to lowest debt per borrower)
  • Percentage change in average student debt per borrower vs. last year’s data


According to the report, the states with high average student debt are:

  • Pennsylvania - $35,185 
  • New Hampshire - $35,143 
  • Delaware - $33,650 
  • Connecticut - $32,326 
  • South Dakota - $31,518 
  • Minnesota - $31,342 
  • Alabama - $31,257 
  • Montana - $30,994 
  • Massachusetts - $30,584 
  • Rhode Island - $30,549


And the states with low average student debt include:

  • Utah - $18,810 
  • New Mexico - $21,314 
  • California - $22,488 
  • Arizona - $23,384 
  • Florida - $24,041 
  • Nevada - $24,133 
  • Washington - $24,164 
  • North Carolina - $25,273 
  • Wyoming - $25,378 
  • North Dakota - $25,815

On a school level, the averages at graduation in 2016 ranged from a low of $3,809 per borrower to a high of $59,113 per borrower. The full list of school level and state rankings is available in the full report

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