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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015

DiNapoli: College Student Loan Debt Doubled in New York Over Last Decade

September 20, 2016

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today released a report on student loan debt which found the average New Yorker with college loans owed $32,200 in 2015, higher than the national average of $29,700. In New York, student loan debt more than doubled during the last decade, growing to $82 billion from $39 billion, an increase of 112 percent. 

“New Yorkers from all walks of life have found higher education the path to a more satisfying and secure life. But many who take out student loans face real difficulties in paying back their debts,” DiNapoli said. “New Yorkers saddled with college debt have less disposable income and often have to push off buying a home or saving for the future. Such struggles have implications not only for those individuals and families with such debt but also for the state’s economy.”

The number of student loan borrowers has risen sharply in New York over the past ten years by more than 41 percent to 2.8 million. Nationwide, the number of borrowers rose by nearly 60 percent to 43.7 million. 

Student loans represented 11.4 percent of the $722 billion outstanding consumer (or household) debt in New York in 2015. Figures on student loans do not include other debt families and individuals incur to pay for college such as home equity loans, borrowing from retirement accounts or credit card debt. 

Rising college costs were one factor in the growth of student loan debt. From 2005-06 through 2014-15, average costs for tuition, fees, room and board for 4-year institutions rose by more than 50 percent for both in-state students attending public institutions and for private institutions in New York.  

In 2005-06, the average cost in New York for full-time undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board for New York residents at a public college was $13,275 versus $20,549 in 2014-15. In 2005-06 it was $32,478 for private colleges versus $48,845 in 2014-15. 

While individuals’ student loan debts vary significantly among local areas in New York, the report found that individuals with higher loan balances were concentrated in downstate areas. In 2015: 

  • Manhattan led all areas of the state with an average student loan borrower balance of $44,500, followed by the Lower Hudson Valley at $36,000.
  • Glens Falls had an average student loan balance of $26,200. Utica-Rome and Elmira each had an average student loan balance of $26,400.   
  • The Watertown-Fort Drum area ranked lowest among areas for which data are available, at $23,500. 
  • The Bronx, with a $27,600 average student loan borrower balance, was the only downstate area below $30,000. 

The Bronx, however, also had the highest percentage of student loan borrowers who were 90 or more days late in payment, the only area within the state where such delinquency was higher than the national figure. The delinquency rate for borrowers in the Bronx (19 percent) was twice the rates in the Long Island (9.5 percent) and Ithaca (9.1 percent) areas.

The proportion of student loan borrowers in New York and the nation whose payments were 90 or more days late rose over the past decade. The share of borrowers with late payments in New York jumped from 8.9 percent in 2006 to 14 percent by 2012 but fell to 12.5 percent in 2015, which was still substantially higher than in 2006. The rate of decrease in the state from 2012 to 2015 was almost twice that which occurred in the nation during this period. 

Default rates for student loans declined in New York from 2012 to 2014. DiNapoli’s report found default rates varied dramatically depending on the type of school an individual attended. For instance, students who attended proprietary, or for-profit, schools were three times more likely to default on their loan than those who attended private nonprofit schools.

Read the report, or go to: