College Game Plan

These are the worst states for student debt

Key Points
  • Student loan debt grew to $1.23 trillion in 2015, an increase of 256 percent from $346 billion in 2004, according to ValuePenguin.
  • WalletHub found West Virginia, Arkansas, New Mexico, Mississippi and Oklahoma have the highest percentage of student loan balances that are past due, or in default.
  • The average outstanding balance is $26,700.
How to deal with college debt
How to deal with college debt

Dealing with crippling student debt is not on anyone's post-grad wish list— yet it's a reality many people face.

Student debt has skyrocketed more than 256 percent from 2004 to 2015, according to a recent analysis from ValuePenguin. Outstanding college-loan balances at the end of the first quarter of 2017 totaled $1.34 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That's up $34 billion from the end of 2016.

The average outstanding balance is $26,700. However, about two million graduates are dealing with loans totaling more than $100,000.

When it comes to wrestling with debt, grads in some states fare worse than others. From ValuePenguin's data, here are the top 10 states with the highest proportion of students wrestling with debt.

WalletHub weighed in this week with its own study, finding which states had the highest average for student debt and where the debt represents the biggest proportion of grads' income, among other rankings. (See the graphic below for the best and worst states.)