States Where Student Loan Debt is Highest, Lowest

November 15, 2018
Amanda Carrozza

Amanda Carrozza is a freelance writer and editor in New Jersey.

These states have the most and least amount of student debt.

A number of factors go into deciding where to go for your undergraduate and veterinary degrees, from program details and prestige, to class size and the likelihood of finding a job after graduation. But what about the amount of student debt you will accrue?

With the exception of mortgages, student loans make up the largest component of household debt for Americans. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) estimates the average educational debt for veterinary school graduates to be $143,757. Therefore, it might be time for incoming students to be more cognizant of how debt will impact their lives upon graduating. For instance, a job in San Francisco might pay more than a one in Tulsa, but will the cost of living in California make it nearly impossible to pay down debt?


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A recent study released by WalletHub—a website that offers free credit scores and reports—compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 11 key measures of indebtedness and earning opportunities to determine the states with the most and least student debt as well as where in the country new graduates are most likely to be left unemployed.

South Dakota tops the list as the state with the highest overall ranking for indebtedness, followed closely by West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Ohio. When student debt is the only ranking factor, East Coast states have the highest averages, including New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Delaware. It is worth noting that of these states, Pennsylvania and Ohio are the only ones with accredited veterinary colleges.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, states with the lowest average student debt are Utah, New Mexico, California, Arizona, and Nevada. This may come as good news for aspiring veterinarians with their sights set on attending the University of California, Davis.

Some other notable findings from the study included that in addition to having the lowest average student debt, Utah had the lowest proportion of students with debt. West Virginia, on the other hand, had the highest proportion. When it comes to unemployment rates for people between the ages of 25 to 34, Alaska has the highest rate, followed by New Mexico and Kentucky.

Use this interactive map to find out exactly how your state ranks.

Source: WalletHub