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Which students have the most student loan debt?

We know that college students today regularly graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. But the demographic breakdown of that debt reveals an interesting financial landscape, showing which students generally graduate with the most debt, as well as which students receive the most financial assistance from their families.

Priceonomics looked at the demographic trends of student debt and discovered that, on average, white men graduate with the most student debt compared to white women and Hispanic, Asian and black students of both sexes.

The average student loan debt upon graduation is just under $40,000. However, white men graduate with an average of $44,000 in debt, compared to $43,000 for Asian men, $42,000 for Hispanic men and $41,000 for black men.

Women, on average, had lower debt levels than men across the board, with the exception of black women, whose average debt load is $42,000.

Asians on average received the most financial assistance from their parents for college: nearly three-quarters of Asians received at least some help from their family with college payments, the highest in the surveyed groups. Hispanics on average received the least amount of help: over half reported that their parents did not help pay for college at all.

From the report:

Overall, females receive less help paying for college than their male peers. 

Only 6% of women responded indicating that their parents paid for the majority of the tuition, and 50% received no help at all. On the other hand, only 43% of male respondents said their parents did not contribute financially to their schooling. Additionally, one in ten male respondents said their parents paid the majority of their college tuition, nearly double the number of women who answered the same way. This is particularly noteworthy after we saw above on a whole women graduate with less debt than men. So even though they get less financial help from their families, women still have fewer loans to repay after college…

On the whole, more than half of the respondents of both genders felt that their debt negatively impacted their current lives. Nearly two thirds of respondents said their current loans have made it harder to save for retirement, and over 50% said that the debt has made starting a small business more difficult. 

The place where we see the biggest difference in these feelings by gender is in the respondent’s’ feelings about keeping up with daily expenses. Only about half the men said that their debt has made day-to-day finances more burdensome, but 10% more females felt the same way. 

Read the full report here.

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