Washington state has the fourth least amount of student loan debt in the nation

Washington state ranked No. 48 on a list of states and state designates with the most student debt, according to a new study released Tuesday by WalletHub. Only California, the District of Columbia, and Utah have less student debt.

The personal finance website’s study is timely in that it came out on the same day as President Joe Biden’s announcement that his administration is forgiving $10,000 in federal student loan debt for those making less than $125,000 per year. Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education will be provided up to $20,000 in debt cancellation.

According to the WalletHub report, “Student debt is a huge problem in America. Save for mortgages, student loans make up the largest component of household debt for Americans. Our collective debt keeps growing, too. At the end of the first quarter of 2022, total outstanding college-loan balances stood at nearly $1.61 trillion, according to the Department of Education. That comes out to an average of $37,000 for each of the 43.4 million borrowers.”

WalletHub compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia across 11 key metrics in two broad categories: student-loan indebtedness and grant and student work opportunities. Some of the 11 metrics include average student debt, the unemployment rate among those aged 25 to 34, and the share of students with past-due loan balances.

Jill Gonzalez, an analyst with WalletHub, explained Washington state’s ranking.

“Washington is the state with the fourth least student debt,” she told The Center Square via email. “The average student debt is among the lowest at just under $24,000, less than half of students have debt, and student debt takes up only about 26% of the median household income, one of the lowest percentages in the country. This means that overall, student loan indebtedness is not a serious problem throughout the state.”

Here's how the Evergreen State ranked in some specific categories: No. 30 in the unemployment rate of the population aged 35 to 34; No. 39 in the percent of student loan debts past due or in default; No. 30 in the availability of student jobs; No. 11 in the availability of paid internships; and No. 39 in grant growth.

Washington state fared better in the overall rankings than its Pacific Northwest neighbors.

WalletHub ranked Oregon at No. 40 and Idaho at No. 37.

The 10 states with the most student debt:

1. West Virginia

2. Pennsylvania

3. South Dakota

4. New Hampshire

5. Mississippi

6. Delaware

7. Kentucky

8. Rhode Island

9. South Carolina

10. North Dakota

The 10 states and state designates with the least student debt:

51. Utah

50. District of Columbia

49. California

48. Washington

47. New Mexico

46. Florida

45. Wyoming

44. Colorado

43. Alaska

42. Nevada

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