Smart Borrower Blog

Only Half of Borrowers Make Regular Student Loan Payments

Jul 24th, 2019 @ 9:44 PM by Amber Nelson

Only 54% of all U.S. borrowers with student loan debt make consistent monthly payments, according to a study from the JPMorgan Chase Institute, with the rest falling delinquent or making larger, less-frequent payments.

Student loan debt has skyrocketed over the past 10 years, with outstanding loan balances doubling in that period. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that 18% of Americans have student loan obligations and collectively they now owe $1.5 trillion. That staggering load is apparently too much for many households to handle.

The Institute found that borrowers are more consistent about paying their mortgages and car loans, while student loan repayment tends to vary based on income fluctuations. At any given time, as many as 59% of student loan borrowers who are in the repayment phase are making no payment.

On average, student debt payments makeup 5.5% of household take-home pay, but younger and lower-income borrowers feel it more keenly in their budgets. For those under age 25, 25% of them pay 16.8% or more of their take-home income on student loan debt while borrowers with household incomes of $50,000 or less pay 14.7% or more. For that reason, only 44% of low-income households make regular payments while 63% of high-income households repay their student loans consistently.

“Even though some progress has been made on this regard, the burden for young households and low-income households is still way too high,” said Institute President Diana Farrell.

Fortunately, the percentage of Americans with student debt has not grown much in the past three years. It has been about 18% since 2016, but it has jumped up since 2004 – before the Great Recession – when only 10% of the population held student loans.

The Institute data comes from the checking account information from more than 4 million households that made student loan payments between 2012 and 2018.

About Amber Nelson
Amber Nelson is a seasoned mortgage industry writer and a regular contributor to and

Leave a Reply