Student loan statistics: Who would be impacted by a student loan repayment benefit?

A student loan repayment benefit can make a broad or targeted impact. See who would benefit the most with these statistics on student loan borrowers.
The Highway Team
The Highway Team
October 11, 2023
June 29, 2022

Post Summary

The student debt crisis has not-so-quietly grown to $1.76T during the pandemic, creating a real opportunity for companies to partner with their employees and help tackle the student debt problem with tax-free employer student loan repayments benefit.

As you evaluate whether your company wants to offer student loan contributions, the following student loan statistics can help you make an informed decision about how impactful this benefit will be for your employee base. 

(Want to find out the exact number of employees in your company with student loans? Reach out to our team at Highway Benefits! You can also use our adoption rate calculator to estimate how many employees might benefit from an employer student loan repayment benefit) 

Student Loan Statistics


  • The total amount of outstanding student debt is $1.76T (Source
  • Roughly 45M Total Americans currently hold some amount of federal or private student debt (Source
  • As of Q3 2023, 43.4M Americans held some amount of federal student debt (Source
  • Based on these stats, the average borrower currently owes approximately $38,997 in student debt


  • Percentage of Age group with Student Debt: 18-24 year olds: 24%, 25-34 year olds: 33%, 35-49 year olds: 23%, 50-61 year olds: 12% (Source)
  • People over the age of 50 are the second fastest growing category of those with student loans (Source)
  • 67% of borrowers are under the age of 40 but these same borrowers owe 57% of the outstanding balances (Source)

Education Level: 

  • In 2018, 65% of undergraduate students graduated with some amount of student debt (Source)
  • The average amount debt owed for an undergraduate degree is $37,651 (Source
  • A borrower with a master’s degree owes nearly 2x more on average as a borrower with only an undergraduate degree  (Source
  • The average amount of grad student debt is 145.6% higher than the national average for student loan debt (Source
  • 51% of MBAs have student loan debt, owing an average of $80,892. $62,325 is from graduate school alone (Source
  • 60% of graduates with masters degrees (M.A., M.S, Masters of Education) have student loan debt and owe an average of $52,606 - $77,064 for graduate school alone (Source
  • 74.1% of law school students and 76-89% of medical school students graduate in debt (Source


  • 58% of all student loan debt is held by women (Source), nearly $929B (Source
  • 56.5% of student financial aid recipients are female (Source
  • On average, female borrowers take 2 years longer to pay off their student loans despite higher payments (Source
  • At graduation, women typically owe more in student debt than men ($22,000 vs $18,880) (Source
  • 55.9% of men have federal student loans vs 67.2% of women. 21.5% and 24.2% have private student loans respectively (Source)
  • Women are more likely than men to have high monthly student loan payments despite making 26% less than men on average. (Source)
  • Black women hold the most student loan debt out of any demographic group (Source), on average holding $38,800 in federal undergraduate loans and $58,252 in graduate loans. (Source)


  • Black graduates with bachelor’s degrees default at 5x the rate of white or Asian graduates with bachelor’s degrees– 21% vs 4% (Source)
  • In the four years following graduation, black graduations owe nearly $25K more in student loan debt than white graduates due to differences in repayments and borrowing (Source
  • 48% of all black borrowers end up owing more on their federal loans four years after graduation (vs 17% of white graduates) (Source)
  • More than 70% of Black students go into debt to pay for higher education, compared to 56% of white students (Source)
  • Young black and hispanic borrowers (<40) are more likely to be behind on their student loan payments and less likely to have paid off their student debt than their asian or caucasian counterparts. In 2021, only 11% of young black and 23% of young hispanic borrowers had paid off their loans vs 52% of young asian and 32% of young white borrowers (Source)

(Note: SLR repayments can be a strong way to support DEI. To learn more, check out this post

Socioeconomics & Impacts on Wealth

  • The median income of houses with student loan debt is $76,400 (Source)
  • Student loan debt delays homeownership, especially in the first 5 years out of school. A 2016 study found that every 10% increase in student loan debt made a student loan borrower 1-2% less likely to own a home within their first 5 years out of school (Source
  • Borrowers who still hold student debt later in life, are likely to have less retirement savings and wealth accumulation than their peers (Source


  • Nearly 30% of all student loan holders live in California, Florida, New York, and Texas (Source)
  • States in the northeast had the highest amounts of average student debt for the class of 2020 (Source)  


These stats are a starting point to help you estimate the potential impact of a student loan repayment benefit on your people. For more useful statistics on student loans, check out our infographic below.

At Highway Benefits, we can help you figure out how many of your employees have student loans and if a SLR benefit is right for you. Schedule a call with our team to get started!

Download the full infographic here

The Highway Team

The Highway Team is on a mission to spread knowledge about student loans, the state of the student debt crisis, and impactful benefits like employer student loan repayments. We're here as a helpful resources so drop us a line anytime. Find us on all the major channels as @highwaybenefits

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