Seven in 10 seniors who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2014 had student loan debt, with an average of $28,950 per borrower, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.
WalletHub recently looked at the average student debt of each state and the District of Columbia – as well as a number of other factors – to determine 2016’s Best and Worst States for Student Debt.
“Location, location, location are the three most important words in real estate — and in education,” according to WalletHub. “Indeed, where you live doesn’t just affect the value of your property; it also reflects the worth of your college degree, the same degree that may have put you in debt.”
(For some better picks: 10 Best States for Paying Off Student Debt.)
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WalletHub’s analysts compared each state across two key dimensions: student loan indebtedness and grant and work opportunities for students.
Student loan indebtedness was ranked based on a state’s average student debt, proportion of students with debt, student debt as a percentage of income, percentage of student loans in past-due or default status, and percentage of student-loan borrowers age 50 and older.
Meanwhile, grant and work opportunities were scored based on states’ unemployment rate for people aged 25 to 34, availability of student jobs, availability of paid internships, and availability of grants.
(Related: 30 Best Paying College Majors: 2016)
Data used to create these rankings were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Institute for College Access & Success, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Council for Community and Economic Research, U.S. Department of Education College Affordability & Transparency Center, Internships.com and Indeed.
Based on WalletHub’s analysis, these 10 states are the least friendly toward student loan debtors:
Overall rank: 42
Total score: 49.21
Student loan indebtedness rank: 43
Grant and work opportunities for students rank: 20
The average student debt is $29,353 in Ohio, and the proportion of students with debt is 67%. Ohio also has a high percentage of student loan borrowers age 50 and older at 8.2%.
Overall rank: 43
Total score: 48.76
Student loan indebtedness rank: 40
Grant and work opportunities for students rank: 34
Mississippi has the second highest percentage of student loans past due or in default at 16.3%. The average student loan debt is $26,177 in Mississippi, and the proportion of student with debt is 60%.
8. New Hampshire
Overall rank: 44
Total score: 47.61
Student loan indebtedness rank: 47
Grant and work opportunities for students rank: 8
New Hampshire has the highest proportion of students with debt at 76%, which is 1.7 times higher than in Wyoming, where the proportion is lowest at 46%. The average student debt amount is $33,410 in New Hampshire.
7. South Carolina
Overall rank: 45
Total score: 47.14
Student loan indebtedness rank: 44
Grant and work opportunities for students rank: 42
South Carolina has among the highest student debt as a percentage of income (adjusted for cost of living) at 53.88%, which is the fourth highest of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The average student debt in South Carolina is $29,163.
Overall rank: 46
Total score: 46.43