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Susan Tompor: Who's dealing with the biggest student loan payments?

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Ever wonder how your monthly student loan payments might stack up next to someone who graduated with a completely different major?

The range can be significant -- starting at $406 a month in the retail industry all the way up to $685 a month for those working at private hospitals and other companies in the social assistance industry.

The averages are based on data released by Fidelity Investments and give a glimpse how some fields can leave employees burdened with more student loan debt than others.

The figures -- which are higher than other studies -- are based on information from nearly 30,000 users of Fidelity's Student Debt Tool. Those individuals may be more likely to take the time using the tool exactly because they're overburdened by college debt.

The tool is widely available at major companies where Fidelity is a record keeper for the 401(k) plan. The tool is available online to the general public, too. See:

The Fidelity data includes those with graduate degrees, as well as undergraduate degrees.


"Here's a snapshot of people looking for help," said Asha Srikantiah, head of the student debt program for Fidelity Investments.

We're moving into the time of the year when many new graduates from the Class of 2019 will start making payments on their student loans as their six-month grace period ends.

College grads had an average of $29,200 in college loans -- a record in the United States -- based on data for the Class of 2018 for those with bachelor's degrees, according to the latest report by the Institute for College Access & Success. That's up 2% from the 2017 average of $28,650.

Graduating with $35,000 in college debt could amount to a $371 a month payment under a standard 10-year repayment plan, assuming a 5% interest rate. That's just a tad lower than the average car payment for a used car.


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