Student debt has skyrocketed more than 256 percent from 2004 to 2015. Outstanding college-loan balances at the end of the first quarter of 2017 totaled $1.34 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That's up $34 billion from the end of 2016.
This speaks to a real crisis, as more and more people are seeing college as the only pathway to success and are accumulating massive amounts of debt to secur that degree.
But students in some states seem to have wracked up way more debt than others. The average student loan debt per person is $26,700, but almost 2 million people owe in excess of $100,000.
The 10 states that rank highest in average per-student loan debt include, from lowest to highest:
- Idaho ($27,639)
- West- Virginia ($27,713)
- Illinois ($29,305)
- South Dakota ($29,364)
- Wisconsin ($29,460)
- Iowa ($29,547)
- NewJersey ($30,1040)
- Minnesota ($31,526)
- Pennsylvania ($34,798)
- New Hampshire ($36,101)
In these states, the percentage of students in debt can range from 66 to 73 percent.
Another study by WalletHub shows just how many students are past due on their loan payments, or have defaulted altogether. According to this study, the states with the largest number of defaults and past-due balances are West Virginia, Arkansas, New Mexico, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.
The states with the lowest number of defaulted payments are Vermont, Nebraska, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Massachusetts.
The fact that student loan debt is skyrocketing, and that so many students are defaulting on their loans, may be an indicator that there needs to be a better way to succeed professionally. Trade or vocational schools and apprenticeship programs, are being touted by the Trump administration as a viable alternative to much more costly universities degrees -- degrees that often take more time to pay back than they ever take to earn.