GOBankingRates

The Average Student Loan Debt in Every State

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If you know someone who's in debt, you're not alone.

From sea to shining sea, 68 percent of college students who graduated from college in 2015 had student loan debt, owing an average of $30,100, according to the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS).

GOBankingRates looked at the student loan debt and percentage of students carrying debt in every state, except North Dakota, using a 2016 TICAS report on the student loan debt of graduates from four-year colleges. A No. 1 ranking shows the highest average debt or the highest percentage of graduates with debt; No. 50 shows the lowest. Click through to see the states where college grads face the biggest student loan bills.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Alabama: $29,153

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 52%

Alabama ranks No. 20 for the highest college student loan debt, with an average of $29,153. With 52 percent of the graduating class of 2015 carrying debt, the state placed at No. 44 in that category.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Alaska: $26,171

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 55%

The University of Alaska in Fairbanks and in Anchorage charged the class of 2015 less than $6,000 for annual in-state tuition and fees. In Alaska, the average student loan debt is $26,171, despite the high cost of living here. The state comes in at No. 36 for average student loan amount and No. 40 for the percentage of graduates with loans.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Arizona: $23,780

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 56%

Arizona was among the 10 states with the lowest average student loan debt in the country. It comes in at No. 43, with debt that averaged $23,780. More than half of its 2015 grads are carrying debt, placing it at No. 36 for that factor.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Arkansas: $26,082

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 57%

Arkansas ranks No. 38 for student debt amount. Its average student loan debt of $26,082 was less than in most states. On the other hand, a higher percentage of its 2015 graduating class are carrying loans, placing it at No. 34.

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Average Student Loan Debt in California: $22,191

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 54%

California boasts an extensive system of community colleges and public colleges, including several public universities that regularly appear on the list of best schools in the country. Grads in this state have less student loan debt, at an average of $22,191, than in many other states, placing it at No. 48. It ranks No. 42 for its percentage of grads with student loan debt.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Colorado: $25,840

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 56%

Colorado students who graduated in 2015 had, on average, $25,840 in student loans when they headed out into the real world. This relatively modest amount put the state at No. 39 for the amount of debt. More than half of grads had loans — some 56 percent — which ties Colorado with Arizona at No. 36.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Connecticut: $34,773

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 64%

Connecticut ranks No. 3 in the nation with an average student loan debt amount of $34,773, which can be an overwhelming amount of debt to deal with. It lost the No. 2 spot to Pennsylvania by $25. As for the percentage of graduates with debt, it ranks No. 14.

What drove up average student loans in this state might have been the private, nonprofit universities. Sacred Heart University and Quinnipiac University had high in-state annual tuition and fees of over $40,000 and $35,000, respectively.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Delaware: $33,849

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 65%

Most of the states with high levels of student debt are located in the Northeast — and Delaware is no exception. Its 2015 graduating students carried an average $33,849 in debt, which secured it the No. 4 spot in the country for highest debt. The 65 percent of graduates with debt placed the state at No. 13 in that category.

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Average Student Loan Debt in the District of Columbia: $31,452

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 55%

Although public universities in the District of Columbia charged approximately $5,000 in resident annual tuition and fees, the annual tuition for many private schools cost between $46,000 and $48,000. This is why D.C. makes the top 10 for highest student loan debt — it's No. 8 on the list.

But fewer students took on student loan debt — it's No. 40 in that category. For example, George Washington University charged the class of 2015 an annual tuition of $46,744, yet only 38 percent of its graduates carried loans.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Florida: $23,379

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 53%

The Sunshine State offers students the opportunity for an affordable college education. Florida ranks No. 46 with its low student debt and No. 43 for the percentage of students with debt.

In fact, in-state tuition and fees in public universities in Florida are among the cheapest in the nation. You'll find many schools with annual in-state tuition under $3,000, and even more under $6,000. Private schools are generally more expensive, however.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Georgia: $27,754

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 61%

Georgia students take on more student debt than those in neighboring Florida, but it still isn't among the states with the highest student loan debt. Georgia students graduating in 2015 carried about $27,754 in loans, placing it at No. 24. Over 60 percent of students graduated with loans, which placed the state at No. 23 for that category.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Hawaii: $23,456

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 50%

Only one of every two members of the class of 2015 in Hawaii carried loans away with their diplomas, and those with loans averaged a low $23,456. That put Hawaii at No. 45 for size of debt and No. 47 for the percentage of students with debt.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Idaho: $27,639

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 71%

Over seven of every 10 students of the graduating class of 2015 in Idaho took out student loans, giving Idaho the dubious distinction of being No. 3 in this category. On the other hand, its average student loan debt of $27,639 pushed it into the less-indebted half of the states, to No. 29.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Illinois: $29,305

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 66%

With pricey private schools like Knox College and Lake Forest charging more than $40,000 in annual tuition and fees, it's no wonder Illinois ranks high for average student loan debt and the percentage of students carrying debt. It placed at No. 19 for an average of $29,305 in student loan debt, and No. 8 for the 66 percent of graduates who carried student loan debt.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Indiana: $29,022

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 61%

Indiana's typical student graduating from college in 2015 carried $29,022 of debt into the world, earning the state the No. 21 spot. However, the average student loan taken out by students attending Indiana Institute of Technology was a hefty $41,844, making the state average look pretty good in comparison. Six out of every 10 students carried debt in Indiana, giving it a ranking of 23.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Iowa: $29,547

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 66%

Iowa is in the center of the nation, America's heartland. But it isn't in the middle of the pack when it comes to student loan amounts or the percentage of graduates with loans.

Iowa college students carried an average of $29,547 in student loan debt when they graduated in 2015, placing the state at No. 15 for big debt. With 66 percent of Iowa students taking loans, the state ranks a very high No. 8, alongside Illinois and a few other states, in that category.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Kansas: $28,008

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 63%

Kansas ranks pretty close to the middle of the list for the average amount of student loan debt. The average student loan debt in Kansas was $28,008, putting it at No. 23. The reported 63 percent of grads who carried debt earned it the No. 17 spot.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Kentucky: $27,225

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 64%

Kentucky students borrowed less than the average student in the country in terms of student loan debt, but more students took on debt than the average state. Students in the graduating class of 2015 borrowed about $27,225 in Kentucky, ranking the state at No. 32. But with 64 percent of grads taking out loans, it came in at No. 14 in this category.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Louisiana: $26,865

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 51%

Louisiana is No. 33 for how much money students in the graduating class of 2015 borrowed for college, reporting about $26,865 in average student loan debt. But it could have been worse — students graduating from Grambling State University in 2015 borrowed an average of $51,887, although the annual tuition was under $7,000. About half of all Louisiana students carried debt, putting it at No. 46 in this category.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Maine: $29,644

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 63%

Maine sits on the Northeastern tip of the continental United States, and its students graduated with heavy student loan debt. The average debt amount was $29,644, placing the state at No. 14. And over six out of 10 graduates carried debt, which is why it's No. 17 in that category. These graduates will likely have to explore creative ways to get out of debt.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Maryland: $27,672

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 56%

Maryland is home to some famous private institutions of learning, including Johns Hopkins University. However, the average student loan debt in the Old Line State is below the average in the country. With an average $27,672 in student debt, it ranks No. 28 for debt amount. Some 56 percent of students in the 2015 graduating class carried loans, putting the state at No. 38.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Massachusetts: $31,466

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 66%

Massachusetts ought to be called the University State with so many four-year colleges within its borders. Even if you've never set foot in the Bay State, you've probably heard of many of these institutions — Amherst College, Babson College, Brandeis University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mount Holyoke College, Tufts University and Wellesley College.

The nonprofit private schools in Massachusetts list in-state annual tuition and fees just under $50,000. That's why it's no surprise that the state ranks No. 7 for amount of student debt and No. 8 for percentage of grads with debt.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Michigan: $30,045

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 63%

Bordering four of the Great Lakes, Michigan is often called the Great Lakes State. It ranks fairly high in terms of student debt amount and percentage of students carrying debt. With an average student loan debt of $30,045, Michigan is No. 12 on the list. Its 63 percent of graduates carrying debt placed it at No. 17 in that category.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Minnesota: $31,526

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 70%

Minnesota is the first non-Northeastern state in the top 10 states with the highest student debt. It ranks No. 6 in average student loan debt and No. 5 in percentage of students carrying debt. This might be largely explained by the very high tuition for some of the state's nonprofit private schools. For example, private Saint John's University listed in-state tuition and fees as over $38,000, while St. Olaf charged the class of 2015 $41,700 in tuition and fees.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Mississippi: $29,942

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 62%

The average student debt in Mississippi for the 2015 graduating class was $29,942, placing the state at No. 13 for high debt. Even with a low annual tuition and costs at $6,200, graduates at the public college Alcorn State University had an average debt of $34,631. The 62 percent of graduates carrying debt placed that state at No. 21.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Missouri: $27,480

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 61%

University students in Missouri could select public schools with an annual tuition of about $5,000 or private schools with tuition topping $47,000. All told, that worked out to an average student loan debt in Missouri of $27,480, placing the state at No. 30 for student debt. Six out of every 10 students needed student loans to make it to graduation, putting Missouri at No. 23 for that category.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Montana: $26,280

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 60%

Six out of 10 Montana students graduating from college in 2015 carried student loan debt, placing the state at No. 27 for that category. Its average student loan debt amount of $26,280 put it at No. 34.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Nebraska: $26,235

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 60%

Nebraska's 2015 grads carried lower student loan debt, and a lower percentage of them did so, when compared to other states. The state's colleges reported an average student loan debt of $26,235, putting it at No. 35 for student loan debt. It comes in at No. 27 for percentage of grads carrying debt.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Nevada: $23,462

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 47%

Nevada is another Western state among the 10 states with the lowest average student loan debt for the class of 2015. Nevada ranks No. 44, with an average of $23,462 in student debt. It was No. 48 for the percentage of grads carrying debt.

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Average Student Loan Debt in New Hampshire: $36,101

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 76%

Everybody likes their state to be No. 1, but maybe not for this study. New Hampshire clocked in at the top of the list, both in terms of the average student loan debt — a whopping $36,101 — and the percentage of students carrying debt — 76 percent. Part of that might be due to the relatively high tuition costs of well-known universities like Dartmouth, with tuition costs of over $48,000. Those with high student loan debt should take these 15 steps to pay it off fast.

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Average Student Loan Debt in New Jersey: $30,104

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 66%

New Jersey is another small Northeastern state that ranks very high in both the average student loan debt and the percentage of 2015 graduating seniors carrying debt. Students carried an average of $30,104, putting the state at No. 11 for debt amount. Some 66 percent of students carried debt, placing New Jersey at No. 8 in this category.

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Average Student Loan Debt in New Mexico: $20,193

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 58%

Seven of the 10 states with the lowest average student loan debt were in the West. New Mexico is No. 49 for average student loan debt and No. 33 for percentage of students with debt. The state is dotted with four-year public colleges, some with tuition under $4,000, which likely helped reduce the necessity for debt.

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Average Student Loan Debt in New York: $29,320

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 59%

It's no secret that it's expensive to live in the Big Apple. Fortunately, New York state has many colleges in less expensive areas. In fact, this state's average student loan debt of $29,320 placed it at No. 18 for debt amounts. And with 59 percent of students graduating in debt, it came in at No. 31 in that category.

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Average Student Loan Debt in North Carolina: $25,645

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 61%

North Carolina ranks among the East Coast states with the lowest average student loan debt, second to Florida. It reported $25,645 as the average student loan debt for the graduating class of 2015, for the No. 40 spot. It rose to No. 23 for the percentage of grads carrying debt, about 61 percent.

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Average Student Loan Debt in North Dakota: N/A

  • Percent of graduates with debt: N/A

The reporting for this study was optional, and the study did not include the state if less than 30 percent of a state's graduating seniors were represented. That was the case with North Dakota.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Ohio: $30,239

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 66%

Ohio's $30,239 average student debt puts it at No. 10, the second Midwestern state to make the top 10. It ranks even higher for percentage of students with student debt, at No. 8.

Many Ohio public colleges offer in-state tuition and fees at $10,000 or under, but a few private schools raise the bar. For example, Oberlin's tuition in 2014 to 2015 was $48,682, while Case Western Reserve University's came to $43,158.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Oklahoma: $24,849

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 52%

It's not a Western state, but Oklahoma still made the list of the states where students took on the least student loan debt, coming in at No. 41. The private University of Tulsa cost almost $36,000 in tuition and fees for in-state students, but many private and most public schools cost one-third of that amount or less. Just over half of college students in the class of 2015 took out student loans, placing the state at No. 44 in that category.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Oregon: $27,697

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 63%

Oregon is on the West Coast, but it's right in the middle of the pack for average student loan debt. Oregon students graduating in 2015 carried $27,697 of debt away with them, putting the state at No. 27 for debt amount. With 63 percent of students taking on debt, Oregon ranks No. 17.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Pennsylvania: $34,798

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 71%

Pennsylvania edged out Connecticut by just $25 to rank No. 2 on the list for the highest average student loan debt in the country. Its students carried an average of $34,798 in loans when they graduated. A hefty 71 percent of students in the class of 2015 carried student debt, the third highest in the U.S.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Rhode Island: $32,920

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 64%

Rhode Island students carried an average of $32,920, the fifth-highest amount of average student debt in the survey. Like the first four states on that list, it's a Northeastern state, too. The smallest state in the nation ranks No. 14 on the list for its 64 percent of students carrying debt.

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Average Student Loan Debt in South Carolina: $30,564

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 60%

South Carolina ranks No. 9 in average student debt and No. 27 in the percentage of students with debt. Most public and some private schools offer reasonable in-state tuition of around $10,000 or less. But others are much more expensive, including the public University of South Carolina at Columbia, with tuition over $20,000, and private school Furman University, which charged more than $44,000 per year.

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Average Student Loan Debt in South Dakota: $29,364

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 73%

A whopping 73 percent of students graduating from college in South Dakota took out student loans, earning the No. 2 spot. The average student loan debt in South Dakota was $29,364, placing it at No. 17 for high debt.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Tennessee: $26,083

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 60%

Six out of every 10 students graduating in Tennessee in the class of 2015 carried student loans, and the average student loan debt was $26,083. Tennessee ranks No. 37 for debt amount and No. 27 for the percentage of students taking on debt.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Texas: $27,324

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 56%

Texas is the biggest state in the continental United States, so it's no surprise that it has dozens of universities, both public — like the University of Texas — and private — like Texas Christian University. The average student loan debt for the Lone Star State's 2015 graduating class was $26,324, placing the state at No. 31. It ranks No. 36 for the percentage of students with debt.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Utah: $18,873

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 41%

So what's up with Utah? Students there finished college in 2015 with the very lowest average student loan debt in the entire United States, at well under $20,000. It also ranks No. 50 for percentage of grads with loans.

One factor appeared to be the low college costs and overall low loan amounts for students at private, non-profit Brigham Young University-Provo. Annual tuition and costs topped out at $5,000, while the average student loans for the class of 2015 was a super-low $15,720.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Vermont: $28,283

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 62%

Vermont's private schools include a number of expensive colleges like Bennington College and Middlebury College, listing in-state annual tuition and fees for 2014 to 2015 at over $46,000. Even public school annual tuition is over $10,000. Still, students kept their debt down to $28,283 in Vermont, placing the state at No. 22 in that category. It ranks No. 21 for how the percentage of students who carried loans.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Virginia: $27,717

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 59%

Average student loan debt in Virginia was only $4 more than in West Virginia for the graduating class of 2015, placing it at No. 25, one spot higher than its neighbor to the west. However, the percentage of students taking out loans in Virginia, 59 percent, was a full 9 percentage points lower than in the Mountain State. Virginia ranks No. 31 for percentage of students with loan debt.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Washington: $24,600

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 57%

Washington is another Western state with very low student debt, coming in at No. 42. Well over half of its graduates carried debt, however, so Washington ranks No. 34 for percentage of students taking on student loans.

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Average Student Loan Debt in West Virginia: $27,713

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 68%

With an average student loan debt of $27,713, West Virginia is No. 26 in the country for debt amount. However, with 68 percent of its students taking out loans, the state ranks within the top 10 highest, at No. 7, in this category. Hopefully, its graduates found jobs at companies that pay off employees' student loans.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Wisconsin: $29,460

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 70%

How many Wisconsin students graduated from college in 2015 with student loan debt? A whopping 70 percent, placing it as the No. 5 highest state in that category. Average student loans in the Badger State were high, too — $29,460 — placing the state at No. 16.

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Average Student Loan Debt in Wyoming: $22,683

  • Percent of graduates with debt: 46%

Wyoming's class of 2015 graduated with an average debt of just over $22,000, and 54 percent had no debt at all. It ranks No. 47 for average student loan debt and No. 49 for the percentage of graduates with debt. The fact that the University of Wyoming only charged in-state annual tuition and fees of $4,646 might have contributed to those relatively low numbers.

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