The Supreme Court of the United States is currently reviewing President Biden's student loan forgiveness plan. Public opinion runs the gamut. Many say that forgiving student loans is unfair while others say not forgiving student loans when the college closed before the student could complete their education is unfair. Needless to say, it's a hot-button issue.

Given the national scope of this conversation, one might wonder what kind of impact this could have on Montanans who have student loan debt.

Here's a quick rundown of data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel and Equifax on student loan debt in Montana:

attachment-Montana Student Loans (2)

So, let's put these numbers in context, using the "Descriptive Statistics of Student Loans by State (2021 Q4)".

Total Borrowers

Montana is 45th out of 52 States (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) in the number of borrowers, meaning, compared to the rest of the country, we don't have that many people with student loan debt.

Then again, with 132,900 Montana borrowers in 2021, and the population of Montana being 1.1 million people in 2021, that would be approximately 12% of the population who have student loan debt. Compared to California, with 4,021,200 borrowers and 39.24 million people, that's approximately 10% of the population with student loan debt. A greater proportion of Montanans are saddled with debt.

Total Balance and Average Balance

Montana is again 45 out of 52 for the total balance (debt among Montana borrowers) but when you consider the average balance per Montana borrower, we're 40 out of 52.

The Delinquency Rate

According to the data set, "The borrower delinquency rate is the share of borrowers who have at least one student loan 90+ days delinquent or in default. A delinquent loan that is jointly-held by multiple borrowers counts against each borrower." With a rate of only 5.6% it suggests that more often than not, Montanans pay their student loan bills.

What Conclusions Can We Draw?

While it may only be a difference of 2%, a bigger percentage of the Montana population has student loan debt than the California population. Montana has roughly the same percentage of the population with debt as Texas and Florida. Yet California, Texas, and Florida all have more robust economies than Montana.

If we want to help Montanans and help the Montana economy thrive, wouldn't forgiving Montanans' student loan debt help?

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