Red States vs. Blue States: Who’s Winning the Student Loan Debt Battle?

Understanding Student Loan Debt Across America

The cost of going to college has risen dramatically over the past few decades. In fact, since 1980, tuition and other fees like room and board and textbooks have gone up by a staggering 169%. This increase has made it tough for many career-focused students and recent graduates, leaving them with significant student loan debt.


Average Student Loan Debt by State

When looking at the average student loan debt in each state, there are some notable differences. Various factors contribute to these differences, such as the state’s approach to higher education, state policies, and the local economic climate.

Here’s a snapshot of what students in different states might owe on average:

In “Red” States:

  • Alabama: $37,000
  • Florida: $38,000
  • Texas: $33,000

In “Blue” States:

  • California: $37,000
  • New York: $38,000
  • Maryland: A high of $43,000

These numbers give us an idea of the debt burden carried by students in different parts of the country.

Political Leanings and Student Debt

Interestingly, a comparison between the student debt levels and the 2020 presidential election results shows some correlation. Generally speaking, blue states, particularly in the Northeast and Pacific Coast, tend to have higher average student loan debts. This may reflect the higher cost of living in these areas as well as potentially more expensive tuition fees.

Red states, which are often found in the Midwest and Mountain West, usually have somewhat lower average debts. This might be due to a combination of a lower cost of living and possibly more cautious borrowing habits among students.


Maryland, a blue state, notably tops the list with an average student loan debt of $43,000, suggesting that students in certain blue states face particularly significant financial challenges after finishing their education.

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What This Means for Students

Understanding the average student loan debt in different states is vital when planning for college and your future financial health. Knowing these figures can help you make informed decisions on where to attend college and how it might impact your finances long term.

For students worried about student loan debt, this comparison suggests that location can play a significant role in the debt they accrue. While the color of a state (red or blue) doesn’t determine the debt level for certain, it can offer some insight into broader economic factors that might contribute to higher or lower debt figures.


Student loan debt is a widespread issue in America, with many students graduating with significant amounts of debt. This can influence career choices, financial freedom, and overall quality of life post-graduation. Given these challenges, it’s crucial to plan your education with an understanding of the potential costs— and to advocate for policies that make higher education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Whether you’re a current student, a recent graduate, or still considering your college options, it pays to be aware of the costs involved and to look for ways to minimize them wherever possible.


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