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Where student loan borrowers owe the most on their debt

Depending on your repayment plan and loan terms, your monthly student loan payment may not have much to do with your remaining balance.

You could have a relatively low debt balance that you want to pay off as quickly as possible, resulting in a higher monthly payment. Or you might have a high debt balance and low income that requires you to keep your monthly payment as low as possible, even if it means taking longer to pay off your loans.

Accordingly, the states where borrowers have the highest monthly payments aren’t inherently the states where borrowers owe the most overall.

Student loan borrowers in Maryland have the highest median monthly payment at $232, according to a recent WalletHub study. Borrowers in Georgia, however, owe the most on their loans with a median balance of $22,310, according to data from the New York Fed.

The median balance among borrowers in Washington, D.C. is higher than all of the states at $28,270, but WalletHub did not include the district in its rankings.

Here are the 10 states with the highest median monthly student loan payments, according to WalletHub:

  1. Maryland: $232
  2. Vermont: $225
  3. Hawaii: $223
  4. Massachusetts: $222
  5. New Hampshire: $218
  6. Connecticut: $218
  7. New Jersey: $216
  8. New York: $212
  9. Virginia: $208
  10. Colorado: $207

Because of federal student loan repayment options like income-driven repayment plans, many borrowers have lower monthly payments than they would on a standard repayment plan that divides payments equally across a certain loan term. 

On the other hand, high incomes generally lead to higher monthly payments on IDR plans, which could help explain why monthly payments are higher in certain states. Maryland has highest median household income of any state at $108,200 a year, according to Census Bureau data.

These are the states with the highest median student debt balances, according to New York Fed data:

  1. Georgia: $22,310
  2. Maryland: $22,260
  3. Virginia: $21,260
  4. North Carolina: $21,020
  5. South Carolina: $20,620
  6. Oregon: $20,500
  7. Pennsylvania: $19,990
  8. Michigan: $19,820
  9. Colorado: $19,810
  10. Alabama: $19,760

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