According to the federal reserve at: http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/2016-economic-well-being-of-us-households-in-2015-education-debt-student-loans.htm

Among young adults who attend college, it is increasingly expected that at least a portion of their education will be financed through a student loan or other forms of borrowing. The survey asks respondents about their use of borrowing to finance their education and the status of student loans acquired for their education. The results show that the repayment status of student loans is highly correlated with the respondent’s family background and the type of institution that they attended. In particular, individuals who either did not complete their degree or who attended a for-profit institution are disproportionately likely to fall behind on their student loan payments.

Education Debt Overview

Twenty-seven percent of adults report that they borrowed money to pay for expenses related to their own education, including 15 percent who currently owe money on these loans and 12 percent who borrowed money that they have since repaid. Among just those who completed at least some education beyond high school, 41 percent acquired at least some debt to finance that education, and half of those who completed at least a bachelor’s degree acquired at least some debt in the process. Reflecting the increased rates of education borrowing among more recent cohorts of college attendees, respondents under age 45 are more likely to have taken out loans for each level of education (figure 31).

Figure 31. Use of student loans to finance own education, including loans that have been fully repaid (by age and highest degree completed)

Figure 31. Use of student loans to finance own education, including loans that have been fully repaid (by age and highest degree completed)

Note: Among respondents who completed at least some college.

While education debt is often in the form of student loans, this is not the exclusive form of borrowing to pay for higher education expenses. Among respondents who report that they currently owe money for their educational expenses, 94 percent report owing money on student loans, but 21 percent have education-related credit card debt, 3 percent have a home equity loan or line of credit used for education expenses, and 4 percent have education debt of some other form.40

Among respondents who report that they currently owe student loan debt for their own education, the mean level of this debt is $30,156 and the median is $12,000. (The median amount of education debt is consistently lower than the mean due to some individuals with large levels of debt). While education-related credit card debt levels are lower, the median amount of education-related credit card debt among those who have this debt is $3,000. Looking at all debt acquired for the respondent’s own education combined, the median level of education debt is $14,000 (table 31).

Table 31. Form and amounts of education debt currently owed for own education
Form of debt Percent of debt holders with form of debt Mean debt (dollars) Median debt (dollars)
Student loan 94.3 30,156 12,000
Home equity loan 2.5 57,550 40,400
Credit card 20.5 7,574 3,000
Other loan 4.3 11,969 9,000
Total 100.0 32,585 14,000

Note: Among respondents who have at least some debt outstanding for their own education. Some respondents have more than one type of debt.

The amount of outstanding education debt is closely related to the level of education that the individual acquired. Among respondents who have some college or a certificate, the median outstanding education debt is $8,000; 41 for those with an associate degree, it is $9,900; and among respondents with a bachelor’s degree, the median is $19,162.42 Respondents who have completed a graduate degree are disproportionately likely to have large debt levels: the median debt for respondents with a master’s degree is $36,000 and for those with a professional degree or a doctoral degree it is $100,000.

Not all respondents who have outstanding education debt are currently making payments on all of their loans. Thirty-nine percent of respondents with outstanding student loan debt from their own education indicate that one or more of their loans are in deferment. Eighteen percent report that they are behind or in collections on one or more of their loans (approximately half of whom also report that they have some loans in deferment or forbearance). Among those who indicate that they are currently making payments on one or more loans for their own education, the average monthly payment is $533, with a median payment of $180.

In addition to asking respondents about the financing of their own education, the survey also asks respondents if they borrowed money for the education of other family members. The results indicate that education debt extends beyond that acquired by the individual obtaining the education. In addition to the 15 percent of individuals who currently owe money on loans for their own education, 4 percent owe money for a spouse’s education and 5 percent hold debt acquired for a child’s or grandchild’s education. Reflecting that some individuals owe money for multiple persons’ educations, 22 percent of individuals say that they currently owe money on education loans for themselves or someone else.