Average student loan debt remains high in 2022 — how Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan may help

A Credit Karma Study


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Aiming to reduce or cancel the federal student loan debt of tens of millions of borrowers, President Biden has announced a student loan forgiveness plan that offers up to $20,000 in relief.

Biden’s executive order eliminates $10,000 in debt for individuals earning less than $125,000 a year (or for married couples earning less than $250,000 who file jointly) and $20,000 for those who received Pell grants.

In addition to loan forgiveness, the president is extending the pandemic-related moratorium on student loan payments and interest through the end of 2022.

But even with debt forgiveness, the more than $1.6 trillion in student loan debt held by 43 million borrowers remains a serious burden. In August, U.S. Credit Karma members with a student loan collectively owed an average of $32,004.

Read on for more findings, including a breakdown of student loan debt by generation, state and more.

Average student loan debt by generation

Baby boomer and Generation X Credit Karma members hold the highest average student loan debt, while Generation Z has the least.

The average student loan debt carried by baby boomers and Gen Xers is nearly three times the average student loan debt carried by Gen Z borrowers.

Generation Average student loan debt
Baby boomer (born 1946–1964) $43,554
Generation X (born 1965–1980) $41,910
Silent generation (born 1928–1945) $35,453
Millennials (born 1981–1996) $31,297
Generation Z (born 1997–2012) $15,456

Among Credit Karma members with active student loans on their reports.

States with the highest and lowest average student loan debt

Credit Karma members living in the District of Columbia have the highest average student loan debt at $47,919, followed by Maryland ($38,797) and Georgia ($36,566).

Members in Utah have the lowest average debt at $26,307, with those in Wyoming ($26,973), Idaho ($27,227), Montana ($27,315) and Iowa ($27,473) close behind.

State Credit Karma members’ average student loan debt Rank
Alabama $33,219 15
Alaska $28,680 39
Arizona $29,683 29
Arkansas $28,586 40
California $31,923 20
Colorado $30,963 24
Connecticut $33,624 11
Delaware $33,870 9
District of Columbia $47,919 1
Florida $32,369 18
Georgia $36,566 3
Hawaii $30,330 26
Idaho $27,227 49
Illinois $34,827 7
Indiana $29,369 31
Iowa $27,473 47
Kansas $28,945 32
Kentucky $28,756 36
Louisiana $30,078 28
Maine $29,548 30
Maryland $38,797 2
Massachusetts $33,519 12
Michigan $32,329 19
Minnesota $30,711 25
Mississippi $33,305 14
Missouri $31,175 23
Montana $27,315 48
Nebraska $28,033 43
Nevada $27,668 45
New Hampshire $33,079 16
New Jersey $35,150 5
New Mexico $27,843 44
New York $35,380 4
North Carolina $32,957 17
North Dakota $28,091 42
Ohio $31,595 21
Oklahoma $27,596 46
Oregon $30,307 27
Pennsylvania $33,653 10
Rhode Island $28,817 35
South Carolina $33,366 13
South Dakota $28,896 33
Tennessee $31,297 22
Texas $28,334 41
Utah $26,307 51
Vermont $34,084 8
Virginia $35,137 6
Washington $28,818 34
West Virginia $28,741 37
Wisconsin $28,723 38
Wyoming $26,973 50

Among Credit Karma members with active student loans on their reports.

Average student loan debt by credit score

Credit Karma members with higher VantageScore 3.0 credit scores tend to have higher average student loan debt. Those with scores of 661 to 780 have the highest average debt — $34,067 — while those with scores of 300 to 600 average $28,231 in student loan debt.

VantageScore 3.0 score band Average total student loan debt Average of next loan payment Avg. account age (in months)
300–600 $28,231 $26 310.3
601–660 $32,165 $33 340.2
661–780 $34,067 $55 325.4
781–850 $33,257 $118 359.8

Among Credit Karma members with active student loans on their reports.

Average student loan payment per month

The average next student loan payment for Credit Karma members is $46. The average next payment for baby boomers, who have an average debt of $43,554, is $91, while Gen X members, whose average total student loan debt isn’t too far behind at $41,910, have an average next payment of only $54.

Credit Karma members with student debt in the silent generation — who hold an average student loan debt of $35,453 — have the highest average next payment: $151. On the other end of the spectrum, Gen Z members have an average of $15,456 in total student loan debt and an average next payment of only $26.

Keep in mind that some of those who are holding education debt took out loans to help pay for their children’s or their grandchildren’s college tuition and are still paying them off. In the first quarter of 2022, 3.7 million Parent PLUS borrowers owed $104.8 billion, according to the National Student Loan Data System. And while grandparents are generally not eligible to take out Parent PLUS loans, they may be able to take out private student loans for their grandchildren.

Tips for managing student loan debt

If you’re struggling with student loans, there are a number of paths to relief. The U.S. Department of Education announced a one-time waiver in April that will help bring millions of borrowers closer to debt forgiveness. The agency will be granting federal student loan borrowers additional credit toward loan forgiveness in income-driven repayment plans.

According to government estimates, the changes will bring immediate relief to at least 40,000 borrowers under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The temporary changes for eligibility expire on Oct. 31, 2022. For more information, visit PSLF.gov.

But even if these recent changes don’t benefit you, there are things you can do to find student loan debt relief. If most of your student loan debt is in federal loans, you tend to have a wider range of debt relief options. Private student loans aren’t eligible for federal student loan forgiveness, but a number of private lenders have offered forbearance options.

Read on for some suggestions.

Income-driven loan repayment

Most federal student loans are eligible for one of the income-driven loan repayment plans, which may soon see some fundamental changes.

The four available plans adjust your monthly student loan payments based on your income and family size.

The Department of Education is proposing a rule to create a new income-driven repayment plan that would cap monthly payments for undergraduate loans at 5% of a person’s discretionary income instead of 10%. Borrowers with both undergraduate and graduate loans would pay a weighted average rate. Additionally, it would raise the amount of income that is considered non-discretionary.

The proposed rule would also forgive loan balances after 10 years of payments — instead of the current 20 years under many income-driven repayment plans — for borrowers with original loan balances of $12,000 or less.

Teacher loan forgiveness

If you’ve been a full-time teacher for five consecutive academic years in a low-income public elementary or secondary school or educational service agency, and you meet other qualifications, you may be eligible for teacher loan forgiveness of up to $17,500 on eligible federal student loans.

Learn more about the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program to see if you qualify.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

You may be eligible for loan forgiveness if you’re a full-time government employee or work for a qualifying nonprofit organization. If you qualify, you could get the remaining balance of your Direct Loans forgiven after making 120 qualifying payments.

To qualify, you must be employed by either government organizations at the federal, state, local or tribal level or nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

If you’ve previously enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan, you can still apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness to see whether your student loan debt can be forgiven in 10 years.

If you’re interested in learning more about PSLF and how it works, contact FedLoan Servicing at 855-265-4038.


To determine averages across student debt, we analyzed in aggregate the accounts of more than 28 million U.S. Credit Karma members with student loan debt whose accounts had been updated in the previous 36 months as of Aug. 25, 2022. All aggregate data analyzed was pulled on Aug. 25, 2022, and came from members’ TransUnion credit reports. For the purposes of this analysis, student loan debt is defined as any unpaid balance existing on members’ open student loans in aggregate at the time the data was pulled. All numbers in this report were rounded to the nearest whole.

About the author: Brad Hanson is a senior editor at Credit Karma. His 30 years of experience in print and digital media includes work for the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, Trucks.com and Polyvore. Most recently before… Read more.