Egads, another Map of the Day! Student Loan Debt


According to this map published by the Washington Post, Virginia ranks among the states where students graduate with the highest student loan debt.


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9 responses to “Egads, another Map of the Day! Student Loan Debt”

  1. jhuenn Avatar

    The data is based on student debt owed by residents, not annual borrowing per student. So the map reflects a little bit on where people with lots of debt, (and maybe advanced degrees, and maybe higher incomes) migrated to. But the state level data also is tempered by the number of people with low student debt such as immigrants, poor, non college graduates, …
    The Post article comments that there is not a good correlation between debt and income – on the state level map. Maybe with a county scale resolution you would see a better match.
    What the map doesn’t portray is state support for higher education.

    1. Student debt owned by residents — what does that mean? Total student loan debt divided by the number of residents in the state? That doesn’t make sense.

      1. jhuenn Avatar

        The topic of the Post article is average levels of debt. Look at the pie charts toward the end of the article – student debt is going up. The data on the map is from the Federal Reserve Bank on where the debt re-payments for student loans are coming from.

  2. All those lawyers moving to Northern VA who owe $180,000 are probably throwing this off a bit.

    1. jhuenn Avatar


  3. Our database server is currently down because of a problem at CESC with one of the storage area networks, so I can’t effectively point you to data on our website. However.

    These reported by the Post are based on credit bureau data, and thus (I believe) include all borrowers, whether they completed a degree or not, and all borrowers, regardless of level. So, one needs to understand that this is not really specific data about graduates, let alone graduates of a specific year.

    The Project on Student Debt is a better source to get a handle on state-by-state comparisons that are more translatable to experience. (

  4. larryg Avatar

    hmmm.. what’s the value of this map?

    the average person is going to believe this is average student loan debt in part because it’s relevant and in the title , whereas what the more astute readers here seem to be saying is that this map is esoteric and not particularly relevant.

    I’ve been interviewed a couple of times by the local paper. Each time I am astounded at what I thought I said and what they seemed to hear and I’ve heard from others with the same experience so I wonder if giving maps likes this to newspaper folks is a bit dangerous.


  5. larryg Avatar

    I’ve tried to explain to newspaper folks the difference between a foot marker in the river verses the actual CFS – cubic feet per second.

    they don’t understand that the foot marker is totally arbitrary and depends on the width of the river and it’s depth/channel.

    you can double the CFS volume – twice a much water in the river but it only goes up 2 feet. (hypothetical river).

    foot markers are used for local experience but they really don’t tell you how much actual volume there is and that’s what is important if you want to understand what is really happening.

    Now – for the really curious – one might ask how one would actually measure CFS in a given river… but I’ve leave that for a homework problem. Hint – it involves the Limit X ->0.

  6. larryg Avatar

    oops.. Limit f(x), as x approaches zero.

    there – take that concept to college graduates 25K in debt and ask them how to figure that out and you may – just find another unfortunate truth about most college folks.

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