States With the Highest, Lowest Student Loan Payments

New student loan study identifies which states are impacted most by the resumption of payments.

Illustration of graduated student wearing graduation ceremony suit holding heavy expensive student loan money bag.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

More than 40 million student loan borrowers received a rude awakening when the Supreme Court struck down President Biden's student loan forgiveness plan back in  June. Those borrowers are now grappling with the reality of resuming their student loan payments as of October 1.

WalletHub's new national student loan debt study reveals the states where the payment reality check is hitting the hardest, as well as those where borrowers are in much better shape.

Student loan debt, state by state

According to WalletHub, student loans are the largest component of Americans' household debt after mortgages. Total college-loan balances topped $1.64 trillion after the second quarter of 2023. This burden is spread unevenly throughout the country, however. 

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WalletHub used its latest consumer finance data to rank all 50 states by median student loan payment per user, from highest to lowest. Oddly, they excluded  Washington, DC, despite including the district in a previous edition of their student debt state rankings.

The resulting state by state rankings defy clear regional patterns, outside the general over-performance of states to the west of Kansas.

Student loan debt map

(Image credit: WalletHub)

Highest student debt burden

The ten states likely to be hit hardest by the resumption of monthly student loan payments are clustered on the East Coast, with one Mountain and one Pacific state thrown in for variety. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Overall RankStateMedian Student Loan Payment
5New Hampshire$218
7New Jersey$216
8New York$212

Lowest student debt burden

On the other end of the ranking, the bottom 10 states' residents and economies could weather the resumption of loan payments more easily, given their lower debt burdens for students.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Overall RankStateMedian Student Loan Payment
46North Dakota$160
50West Virginia$139

Borrowers' best next moves

It's important to note that these rankings only reflect the raw monthly payments flowing from borrowers to lenders from across the country. According to WalletHub's own data, many states offset their high median loan payments with plentiful student loan grants and higher-paying job opportunities.

If you're a borrower, hopefully you've already reviewed your loan details and made your October payment (if necessary). Now is the time to revisit your budget, review repayment options, and take other key steps to brace for financial impact. 

Many things have changed since the loan pause began in 2020, including 17 million borrower accounts changing loan servicers or platforms, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Consider our full breakdown of steps to adjust to the end of the payment pause.

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Ben Demers
Audience Engagement Manager,

Ben Demers manages digital content and engagement at Kiplinger, informing readers through a range of personal finance articles, e-newsletters, social media, syndicated content, and videos. He is passionate about helping people lead their best lives through sound financial behavior, particularly saving money at home and avoiding scams and identity theft. Ben graduated with an M.P.S. from Georgetown University and a B.A. from Vassar College. He joined Kiplinger in May 2017.