Top 5 states with highest, lowest student loan debt

With a $1.41 trillion crisis in outstanding student-loan balances in the U.S. – the largest factor in American household debt – WalletHub found that South Dakota is the No. 1 leading state in college loan debt followed by four eastern states.

WalletHub’s report released on Wednesday compares all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, with the most student loan debt and highest unemployment rates from ages 25 to 34.

As the total amount of first-quarter outstanding college-loan balances tops out at $1.41 trillion in the U.S. for 2018, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, student loans are the largest factor in American household debt.

Coming out on top with a calculated score of 71.41 was South Dakota, followed by West Virginia (68.16), Pennsylvania (66.95), New Hampshire (65.16) and Ohio (63.84).

On an extensive scale measuring “Student-Loan Indebtedness” and “Grant & Student Work Opportunities” through 11 different components, WalletHub found that 10.7% of all student-loan debt in the U.S. is at least 90 days delinquent.

The study measures average student debt, proportion of students with debt, student debt as a percentage of income, unemployment rate ages 25 to 34, percentage of student loan balances past-due and the percentage of student-loan borrowers age 50 and older.

Utah was dubbed the state with the least amount of student loan debt with a score of 13.77, followed by Hawaii (15.6), Wyoming (24.66), California (25.22) and Washington (30.18).

All of these states fall differently on the “Grant & Student Work Opportunities” spectrum – but, the top five states found to have the highest unemployment rates between ages 25 and 34 are Alaska, New Mexico, Kentucky, Mississippi and Delaware.

Where graduates decide to carry out their line of work, according to the report, is a big factor for how easily or quickly one can pay off those loans, in hopes of avoiding default.

WalletHub found that “student-loan borrowers” are oftentimes better off living in strong-economy states with low college-debt-to-income ratios.

“New York City, for instance, might have a high average salary for a certain profession, but the high cost of living could outweigh the gains,” the report says.