Utah is the Best State to Pay Back Student Loans, Maine is the Worst

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A new Schools.com study of student loan debt, job markets, earning potential and cost-of-living found that Utah is the best state for college graduates to repay student loans, while Maine is the worst.

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the national average amount of student loan debt is nearly $30,000 and college graduates are feeling the pressure of those loans

With growing job opportunities, strong scores in earning potential, and low cost-of-living rates, Utah tops the list as the best state for graduates to repay their student loans, according to the 2014 Schools.com Best States to Repay Student Loans study. Maine ranked as the worst, based on high debt-to-income ratios, above-average percentage of residents with student loan debt, and a bottom five ranking for average income.

Utah ranked in the top 10 nationally in every category, including a No. 7 ranking for average income and No. 4 for debt-to-income ratio. Wyoming took the No. 2 spot thanks to low unemployment rates, lower than average student loan debt amounts and a No. 2 rank nationally in student debt-to-income ratio. Washington came in third due to its No. 1 ranking for annual income and top three score for student debt-to-income ratio.

“Although the average debt burden varies state-by-state, the national average amount of student loan debt is nearly $30,000 and college graduates are feeling the pressure of those loans,” says Michelle LaFrance, Web Producer of Schools.com. “The best states for repaying student loan debt relieve that pressure by offering college graduates opportunity in the form of growing job markets, competitive salaries and perceived impact of student debt: cost-of-living coupled with earning potential.”

Meanwhile in Maine, the combination of bottom three ranking nationally for student debt-to-income ratio, the second worst annual average income and average student loan debt near $30,000, resulted in the state’s ranking as the worst state for repaying student debt. Rhode Island is the second worst state due to its high cost-of-living and bottom five scores in annual average income and student debt-to-income ratios.

Iowa followed Rhode Island, ranking in the bottom five nationally for average annual income, student loan debt-to-income ratios, average student debt amounts and percentage of students with debt.

“Indeed, it remains a tough economy for many states,” notes LaFrance. “Students may need to consider relocating or broadening their job search to other areas for better employment opportunities that allow them to pay down their loans as quickly as possible.”

Here are the 10 best U.S. states to repay student loans in 2014, according to the Schools.com Best States to Repay Student Loans study:

1. Utah
2. Wyoming
3. Washington
4. Nevada
5. Virginia
6. Tennessee
7. California
8. Colorado
9. Kansas
10. Texas

Here are the 10 worst U.S. states to repay student loans in 2014, according to Schools.com Best States to Repay Student Loans study:

1. Maine
2. Rhode Island
3. Iowa
4. New Hampshire
5. New Jersey
6. Pennsylvania
7. Vermont
8. Mississippi
9. West Virginia
10. Montana

For additional details on this study, please see the Schools.com articles on the Best States to Pay Back Student Loans and Worst States to Pay Back Student Loans for 2014.

Methodology

This analysis of the Best and Worst States to Pay Back Student Loans is based on each state's Economic and Arrears Factor, a proprietary metric developed by Schools.com that considers the following:

  •     Average salary, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2013
  •     Cost of living, based on data from C2ER, 2014
  •     Unemployment rate, based on figures from the BLS, June 2014
  •     State-level student debt statistics, based on figures from the Project on Student Debt, 2012
  •     Student debt-to-income ratio, based on data from the BLS and the Project on Student Debt, 2012
  •     Likelihood of having debt, based on figures from the Project on Student Debt, 2012
  •     Student default rate by state, based on data from the Department of Education, 2013

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Erin Ellis
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