10 percent of DC-area borrowers have $100K+ in student loan debt

WASHINGTON — The D.C. area region ranks No. 1 among metro areas for student loan debt and many borrowers are six-figures in the hole.

LendingTree found the median balance for student loan borrowers in the D.C. area is $22,803. But for many, that’s just a drop in the bucket.

“One of the interesting things about D.C. is that there are a lot of people who have professional degrees or graduate degrees,” said Kevin Walker at LendingTree. “So that means they have likely borrowed $50,000 or $100,000 or more, and in fact in D.C. almost 10 percent of loan holders owe more than $100,000.”

Borrowers in the D.C. region that are deep in the hole are at least in a better position to be able to pay it back.

“There are great jobs for people who went to law school and borrowed a lot of example, whereas in other parts of the country if you borrowed $100,000 for law school the salary you would get would be relatively low and it would be harder to make it work,” Walker said.

Twenty-five percent of the adult population in the D.C. region holds at least a graduate degree, more than double the national average of 11.5 percent.

Nationwide, LendingTree said student loan borrowers have balances on three to four student loans.

U.S. student loan debt is now a record $1.5 trillion, up from $600 billion a decade ago.

The Pew Research Center said 37 percent of adults under the age of 30 carry some kind of student loan debt.

Unfortunately, some borrowers will never see a return on their investment.

LendingTree said 21 percent of Americans who have enrolled in college have left before finishing — 16.8 percent in D.C. — and many are paying off debt that hasn’t earned them a degree.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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