Student debt can become a big burden for young adults in the U.S., with a third of college graduates saying their degree wasn't worth the debt.
But a new study has claimed graduates can pay off their student loans in as little as four years — if they live in the right place.
The research from personal finance advisors GoBankingRates analyzed the cost of living and median salaries for recent college graduates in 100 U.S. cities, weighing the data against the average student loan balance in each individual city.
Published Tuesday, the findings showed that the best cities weren't necessarily those where grads made the most money, or where the cost of living was the lowest.
Years to repay student loans: 6.02
While the average cost of rent is on the higher side at $2,150 a month, graduates who live in Littleton benefit from a median salary of $71,315, according to the study.
Years to repay student loans: 6
Seattle's residents pay the fifth-highest rent in the top 20 ranking, but enjoy the lowest utility costs. According to GoBankingRates, Seattle graduates' average student loan balance of $35,305 could take just six years to repay.
Years to repay student loans: 5.73
The median income for new graduates in Spring is $5,568 a month, while the average monthly cost of rent is $1,575 — meaning graduates have the potential to pay off their student debt in under six years, according to GoBankingRates.
Years to repay student loans: 5.66
The city of Silver Spring has a high cost of living — residents pay the third-highest grocery costs, second-highest utility costs and third-highest transportation costs, according to GoBankingRates. Graduates also have the third-highest average student loan balance at $39,617. However, the analysis found that recent grads have a median income of $76,608 per year — the seventh-highest of any city on the list.
Years to repay student loans: 5.14
Despite having some of the highest living costs of the cities included in the analysis, San Jose enjoys the highest median income for graduates at $96,662 per year, or $8,055 per month. Meanwhile, the average loan balance in San Jose is only the sixth highest at $29,307.
Years to repay student loans: 5.13
Katy came in around the middle of the pack for both median income — $6,155 per month — and average rent. The city also had the third-lowest utility costs on the list, at $66.27 per month. According to GoBankingRates, graduates living in Katy should be able to pay back their average loan balance of $31,380 in just over five years.
Years to repay student loans: 5.12
Graduates who earn the median income of $70,500 per year and pay the average rent of $1,500 per month should be poised to pay back their student debt in just over five years, the analysis said — assuming a grad has the average loan balance of $30,266.
Years to repay student loans: 4.81
Nashville's average rent cost was middle of the range, while grocery costs were the third lowest of the 100 cities analyzed. Lower outgoings combined with a higher average income of $6,333 a month meant that graduates could pay off the city's average loan balance of $37,158 in less than five years.
Years to repay student loans: 4.56
Alexandria has the third-highest average graduate salary of $93,370, according to GoBankingRates' data. Living costs are also on the higher end. Although the city has the second-highest student loan debt of $40,085, the analysis concluded that on the average salary, graduates should be able to pay it off in around four-and-a-half years.
Years to repay student loans: 4.07
Graduates living in Plano have the potential to be free of student debt is just over four years, according to the study. Plano has the fourth-highest median income of all the cities on the list at $88,578 per year, while the average student loan balance sits at $34,047.