Buried: Student Debt in the U.S.
The amount of debt in the U.S. is staggering, and student loans make up a considerable portion of the pile. Many new graduates are facing uncertain futures, taking positions with average salaries while chipping away at high loan balances. Let’s take a look at student loan debt in the U.S. and some tips for borrowers.
The State of the Nation
Total student debt in the U.S. (1)
Average debt per student (1)
Percentage of college students who graduate with debt (2)
Percentage of millennials who say they don’t know when their loans will be paid off (2)
Loans go into default after 270 days of non-payment.(3) At this point, lenders can take legal action against borrowers.
Default rate in 2013 (3)
Number of borrowers who defaulted in 2013 (3)
Percentage of borrowers who say they’ve paid for a student debt relief service (4)
The Cost of College
Average annual college tuition (1)
Public university $9,410
Private university $32,410
Annual room and board fees (5)
Public university $10,440
Private university $11,890
Average cost of books (5)
Public university $1,250
Private university $1,230
Increase in college tuition and fees since 2006 (6)
However, the average wage index (AWI) has seen minimal increase over the years, settling around $48,098.63 in 2015. (7)
Tips for Borrowers
Here are some pointers for borrowers looking to keep their credit scores high and their chances of default low. (2)
Use your grace period
After you graduate, you’ll typically have a six-month grace period. If you can, you should still make payments during this time to keep interest from accruing on your loan balance.
Use income-driven repayment plans
Many loan providers will offer you the choice to enroll in a payment plan that takes your annual income into account. This is particularly helpful when you’re starting out in an entry-level position and might make more as time goes on.
Defer a loan if you go back to school
It can be hard to go back to school and simultaneously work enough to make your loan payments. Luckily, most loan providers will allow you to defer your payments until after you graduate from your new program.
Only place a loan in forbearance if you have to
Loan forbearance is a good option if you can’t make payments, but loans still accrue interest during this period and will eventually increase your overall balance.
Avoid defaulting on loans if you can
Defaulting on loans can hurt your credit score and eventually lead to legal troubles. If you can’t make payments, first look into deferment options with your provider.
Stick to a budget
Keep a monthly budget that includes your student loan payments. Consider paying more than the minimum amount on your loans to pay off both interest and part of the principal.