The Worst Cities for Student Loan Debt

Graduates in these U.S. metro areas have the biggest financial hangovers from college.

Photograph of figurine of unhappy female graduate in cap and gown buried under stacks of U.S. paper currency, suggesting the idea of the high price of education and crushing student loans. Bob Venezia / Shutterstock

College is more expensive than ever — and, student loan debt is higher than ever, too.

Americans are carrying a record $1.4 trillion in college debt, with the average borrower owing an eye-popping $35,359, according to the credit reporting agency Experian. The typical debt burden has jumped 26% in the last five years.

Think those numbers are bad? In these U.S. metro areas, they're even worse.

Follow along as we count down the 50 places with the highest average student loan balances, including an area where the typical graduate is buried under nearly $50,000 in college debt. Experian says it's not surprising that most of these cities are college towns.

50. Trenton, New Jersey

Aerial View of Trenton New Jersey
FotosForTheFuture / Shutterstock

Trenton is New Jersey's capital city, it's the home of Thomas Edison State University, and Princeton University is nearby. College grads with bachelor's degrees or higher make up 12.2% of the local adult population.

In the Trenton metro area — which includes neighboring Ewing, New Jersey — the average student loan debt is $37,719.

That's up 1.9% from last year, when balances were averaging $36,998.

49. Portland, Oregon

Sunset over the iconic Portland, Oregon Old Town sign in downtown Portland, Oregon
Jess Kraft / Shutterstock

Oregon's largest and oddest city (the bumper stickers say, "Keep Portland Weird!") has lots of institutions of higher learning in its midst, including Portland State University. Nearly half (48.2%) of adults here have attained a bachelor's degree or better.

In the Portland metro area — which also encompasses neighboring Beaverton, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington — the average student loan debt is $37,818.

That's up 5.6% from last year, when balances were averaging $35,813.