May 21, 2024

Question of the Day: What is the average amount of student debt for college graduates?

College graduates need a plan to pay back any money they chose to borrow. Let's see how much that is, on average.

Answer: $37,650

A table showing the average amount of student loan debt for college graduates over the last 4 years.


  • What factors would a person have to consider when deciding if it's worth it to graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in debt?
  • Explain the relationship between the middle column (debt at graduation per student) and the right column (debt at graduation in May 2021 dollars).
  • Are you concerned about student loan debt? Explain why or why not.
  • What can a person do to minimize their debt when they graduate?

Click here for the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.


Behind the numbers (Education Data Initiative):

"Currently, student loan debt at graduation is an estimated $37,650. Despite the rising cost of tuition, graduates who have been out of school for years often owe more than new graduates due to interest rates.

  • The average total student loan debt-to-income ratio (DTI) for a new graduate is 63%
  • The average monthly student loan payment for the Class of 2020 is an estimated $289
  • After adjusting for inflation, the Class of 2020 graduated with the highest amount of debt, with an average balance of $43,140 in September 2023 dollars.
  • Before adjusting for inflation, the average student loan debt at graduation has increased 106% since 2007; after adjusting for inflation, the average debt increased 41%."


Played by over a million people, the game PAYBACK develops student decision-making skills required to get to and through college.


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About the Author

Ryan Wood

Ryan grew up with and maintains a love for learning. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with a degree in Business Administration and worked in sports marketing for a number of years. After living in Texas, Colorado, Tennessee, and Minnesota, the call of education eventually brought Ryan back to his home state of Wisconsin where he was a Business and Marketing teacher for three years. In his free time he likes to spend time with his wife and daughter, play basketball, read, and go fishing. Now with NGPF, Ryan is excited to help teachers lead the most important course their students will ever take.

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