10 U.S. Cities with the Highest Student Loan Debt

March 22, 2013

Each month, we take a look at data from our members to analyze the current state of credit and debt in the U.S. This month we’re honing in on student loan debt, which has been a hot topic for quite some time now. What we found might surprise you.

Here’s a rundown of the ranking of the ten U.S. cities whose residents carry the highest student loan debt*.

  1. Pittsburgh, PA – $35,975
  2. Columbia, SC – $36,611
  3. St. Louis, MO – $36,621
  4. Prescott, AZ – $36,996
  5. Little Rock, AR – $37,046
  6. Washington, DC – $37,244
  7. Albany, NY – $39,057
  8. San Francisco, CA – $39,831
  9. Atlanta, GA – $40,000
  10. Durham, NC – $40,881

Some Thoughts on the Numbers

Some of the cities on this list shouldn’t come as a surprise. San Francisco, Credit Karma’s home base, draws many recent grads to its young tech and innovation industry jobs. SF residents shoulder some of the highest housing costs in the nation, too.

Both Washington, DC and San Francisco were included in the Fiscal Times’ list of 10 Best Cities for Young People to Find Jobs, and St. Louis was in Jobs’ list of 10 Happiest Cities For Job-Seeking Grads.

So what do these numbers actually tell us? We can speculate that young people are more burdened with debt than they were a decade or so ago (that’s true). But if you dig down deeper into the numbers, there are some other telling facts. For instance, there is a surprising number of Credit Karma members over the age of 60 who are still making monthly student loan debt payments, which shows that the student loan payments can last a lifetime. In February, the average Credit Karma member over the age of 65 had $32,105 in student loan debt.

The Takeaways

It should be shocking that the average consumer living in Durham, NC is carrying more than $40,000 in student loan debt. But, sadly, most of us know all too well that college tuition rates have increased greatly in recent years. And with the job market being tougher, more graduates are unable to pay more than their monthly payment. Here are a few things to think about, if you’re paying back your own student loans debt:

  • Make your student loan payments on time. Making a late payment can have serious ramifications on your credit and your financial life. Read more about this in How Student Loan Delinquency Affects Your Credit.
  • If you’re a current student, be mindful of how you’re spending your loan money. There are some important do’s and don’ts you should stick to.
  • Pay your loans off early, if possible. You’ll greatly reduce your interest costs if you do so.

Bethy Hardeman is the Social Media Manager and Writer at Credit Karma, where she’s been since February 2011. When she’s not writing about credit and finance all over the web, you can find her playing her guitar, catching the latest movie, training for her next race or just exploring the city of San Francisco.

*These numbers come from our February 2013 data. We took a took a look at the student loan debt of 658,046 Credit Karma members total, ages 18 and above.