If you’re looking into college, whether you’re a high schooler nearing graduation or an adult looking for some more education, you know the importance of student debt. Though there are a lot of ways to handle student debt, you may never have considered the concept of simply choosing your state wisely.
Different states actually have differing amounts of student debt, which means this metric might help you in your college life. With this state-by-state analysis of student debt, you’ll be much more well-prepared for your college choices.
Average Debt by State
Determining the amount of debt a state’s graduates have on average can be very important to determining your next steps. This is actually a very localized measurement; it might surprise you, but New England has the highest debt on average, while the Southwest has the lowest.
Most of the states with the highest average debt are in New England; the highest state in another locale is Alabama, which is the eighth-highest. These are the five states with the highest average debt.
- Connecticut with $38,510
- Pennsylvania with $36,854
- Rhode Island with $36,250
- New Hampshire with $34,415
- Delaware with $34,144
The other side of the country, conversely, is where you’ll generally find the lowest average debt. Of the five lowest, only one isn’t in the Southwest.
- Utah with $18,383
- New Mexico with $21,237
- Nevada with $22,064
- Wyoming with $22,524
- California with $22,785
Highest and Lowest Colleges Overall
Individual colleges of course make a difference in this measurement, but it might make a bigger difference than you would have even thought.
Take New York, for example, which has one of the higher averages in the nation at $30,931. But amazingly, it has the nation’s highest and lowest-average colleges: CUNY Lehman College at $4,410 and New York School of Interior Design at $65,401.
You can get a good education in any state for a reasonable price. These regionally diverse states all have at least one college with a graduating debt average of under $10,000.
- CUNY Lehman College in New York at $4,410
- Bethel College-North Newton in Kansas at $5,633
- Central Connecticut State University at $5,831
- University of the Incarnate Word in Texas at $6,271
- The College of Idaho at $7,202
- Pennsylvania College of Technology at $7,219
- Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University at $7,454
- Berea College in Kentucky at $7,468
- Dixie State University in Utah at $12,201
Delinquency is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle no matter what type of debt you’re talking about. If you miss just one payment on a loan, it can have significant effects on your credit. Obviously it’s not a death blow, but you want to avoid it.
The thing is, many people don’t discuss this when it comes to using location as a figure in student loans. The problem arises from the fact that many of the lowest-debt areas are also the highest-delinquency areas. While New England has overall very high student loan averages, MappingStudentDebt.org classifies it as having “extremely low” rates of delinquencies, while classifying the Southwest has having “extremely high” rates of delinquencies.
These measurements correlate much more strongly with general income than with the amount of debt an individual ends up having. Pay more attention to your socioeconomic status and the socioeconomic status of those around you than your projected debt when it comes to potential debt delinquency.
So, should you move to get a better rate on your student loans? There are many different factors that go into choosing a college, and this probably shouldn’t be the most important one. You should always focus on your financial wellness, whether or not you have a lot of student debt.
That being said, if you’re stuck between a number of different colleges, there’s nothing wrong with pulling these numbers up. Look at your finances as part of your college decision, not as the first and foremost deciding factor. It’ll set you up better for your finances in the future.