College debt is a hot topic right now, and for good reason. Many people get out of college with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and if you can avoid it, you definitely want to take the steps necessary to do so. Although you’ve probably thought about location when discussing your future college, you might not have thought about a state’s bearings on your eventual debt. But astonishingly enough, your state might make a significant impact. Check out this state-by-state analysis to get the bigger picture.
When you’re talking about state debt, you might immediately look toward overall state averages. This doesn’t tell the whole story, but it’s definitely a good way to start. By looking at the overall numbers, you can get an idea of which states tend toward higher expenses.
As you look at the average state debt, you’ll notice that averages are generally localized. The five states with the highest student debt are all in New England.
- Connecticut with $38,510
- Pennsylvania with $36,854
- Rhode Island with $36,250
- New Hampshire with $34,415
- Delaware with $34,144
The localization works both ways, too. The five states with the lowest student debt are all further toward the West coast, with all but one in the Southwest.
- Utah with $18,383
- New Mexico with $21,237
- Nevada with $22,064
- Wyoming with $22,524
- California with $22,785
Individual Colleges in Each State
If you want to start getting into more accurate numbers, you definitely want to look at the numbers for individual colleges. You’ll understand your potential student debt load much more accurately if you pay attention to average college debt at your preferred college.
This is incredibly important because average debt by state doesn’t always tell the whole story. Take New York, for example. Its average of $30,931 doesn’t even place in the top five highest in the nation. But the college with the highest average debt in the state is the New York School of Interior Design, with a whopping average of $65,401: more than twice as expensive as the state average.
You can see this on the opposite end, too. The nation’s most expensive state on average is Connecticut, with an average of $38,510. But its least expensive college is Central Connecticut State University, with an average of $5,831. That makes it one of the least expensive across the country. Whether your state is high or low on average, this number can make it or break it.
When it comes to financial wellness, this is one of the most important things to consider. Although it may take you many years to pay off a large amount of student debt, that’s better than defaulting on any of your student loans. Even just one late payment can make an impact for years to come.
However, the more you look at the numbers, the more obvious it is that debt amount and delinquency rates aren’t always correlated. In fact, there seems to almost be a reverse correlation — it appears that areas with higher student debt on average tend toward having lower delinquency rates, and vice versa.
This might be because socioeconomic status plays into loan delinquency far more than nearly any other piece of the puzzle. Lower-income ZIP codes tend toward having much higher delinquency rates. Keep this in mind when you’re considering your college state. Getting a well-paying job after college is an important part of maintaining your financial wellness.
You can’t predict your student debt with 100% accuracy unless you actually start talking to a college and run the numbers. But if you take a look at some of these numbers, it’s more likely that you’ll know where to start looking. Remember that financial wellness doesn’t start or end with student debt. Learn strong financial skills and maintain as good of a credit score as possible to get a great student debt loan, then practice those financial skills so you can stay up to date on your loans once it comes time to pay them.