QoD [UPDATED]: Excluding home loans, what are the three largest debts for American consumers?

Jan 13, 2020
Student Loans, Question of the Day, Credit Cards, Research


  1. Student loan - $1.5 trillion
  2. Auto loan - $1.32 trillion
  3. Credit Card - $0.85 trillion


  1. Which type of credit has grown the fastest from 2004-2019? Why do you think this is the case? 
  2. Using the chart, estimate the growth rate (in trillions of dollars) between 2004-19 for student loans, auto loans and credit cards. 
  3. What impact did the Great Recession (2008-09) have on debt levels? Do you think people tend to borrow more or less when a recession occurs? 
  4. Write a one sentence summary for this graph.

Here's the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.

Behind the numbers (New York Fed)

Non-housing balances increased by $64 billion in the third quarter, with increases across the board, including $18 billion in auto loans, $13 billion in credit card balances, and $20 billion in student loans.


Additional NGPF resources: 

  • Play Shady Sam in the NGPF Arcade to help your students learn the tricks of the loan trade 
  • This FinCap Friday, Move Over, Millennials, provides data on Gen Z's borrowing behaviors 






About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.