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Total Student Debt Hits $901 Billion

July 26, 2012

Federal Reserve Bank data show total student loan debt has climbed consistently during the last seven years and now stands at a staggering $901 billion.

Total Student Loan Debt Grows 145 percent in 7 Years

According to the Federal Reserve Bank, total student loan debt now stands at a staggering $901 billion—a 145 percent increase from the first quarter of 2005 to the first quarter of 2012. During those seven years, total loan debt increased for all age groups.

Borrowers under the age of 30 saw an increase of $172 billion in student loan debt from 2005 to 2012, a 120 percent increase. This age group, however, represented the smallest percent change in student loan debt for the seven-year period. Borrowers aged 40 to 49 saw a 185 percent increase in debt, while 50- to 59-year-olds experienced a 202 percent increase. Borrowers over 60 registered the largest percent change—a 437 percent increase—but represent only $43 billion of the $901 billion in total debt.

More money to more borrowers

In 2012, the average student loan balance totals $24,300 per borrower, which is nearly $9,000 more than in 2005. During the same period, the number of borrowers grew 60 percent, from 23.3 million to 37.1 million. The 30- to 39-year-old age group represented the largest portion of this growth in borrowers.

Delinquency rates—as marked by a borrower who is behind 90 days or more on a loan payment—are highest among those aged 40 to 49. Nearly 12 percent of borrowers in this age group are labeled as delinquent as of the first quarter of 2012. In comparison, 9 percent of borrowers in each of the 30-39, 50-59, and 60-plus age groups are delinquent.

Interactive charts from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York provide a longitudinal perspective on total student loan debt, average loan balance, number of borrowers, and delinquency rates, all broken down by age groups. The interactive charts are available through the Federal Reserve Bank.


Natalie Pullaro Davis
Manager, Research and Policy Analysis