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JPMorgan research: Student load debt burden for families

🕐 4 min read


The JPMorgan Chase Institute produced new research exploring the student loan payment burden for 4.6 million American families who make student loan payments. Approximately one in four of all families, across ages and incomes, spends at least 11 percent of take-home income on student loans in months with positive payments, while the typical family’s median payment is $179, or approximately five percent of take-home income. This is more than they spend on other necessities like out-of-pocket healthcare costs or fuel, according to previous JPMorgan Chase Institute research.

According to the New York Federal Reserve, student loan debt is the fastest growing consumer debt category in America, having doubled to $1.5 trillion in the last 10 years and roughly 22 percent of student loan borrowers are in default.

The new data from the JPMorgan Chase Institute finds the payment burden for young and low-income families is especially stark. A quarter of account holders under 25 spend 16.8 percent or more of their take-home income on student loans. For families with an annual gross income of $50,000 or less, one in four of these families spend 14.7 percent or more of their take-home income on student debt payments.

“While consensus is growing about the increasing role of student loan debt in America, there is still limited data about how student loan payments fit into the monthly financial picture for most Americans,” said Diana Farrell, president and CEO of the JPMorgan Chase Institute. “By understanding the relationship between these student loan payments and other financial outcomes, we hope to provide policymakers, lenders and other stakeholders with valuable information that can help shape policies to ease this burden for America’s families.”

The report from the JPMorgan Chase Institute, Student Loan Payments: Evidence from 4 Million Families,” is unique not only for its large sample size but also for its visibility into private and federal student loan payments (including any fees and fines), alongside income, spending, liquid assets and other debt payments. This allows policymakers and stakeholders to better understand the relationship between student loan debt and other financial outcomes.

Key findings from the report include:

• Younger and lower-income account holders are especially burdened by student loan payments.

o A quarter of account holders under 25 spend 16.8 percent or more of their take-home income on student loans.

o For families with an annual gross income of $50,000 or less, one in four families spend 14.7 percent or more of their take-home income on student loans.

o Fifty-seven percent of families making student loan payments have a primary account holder under the age of 45 years. One in four 25 to 34 year olds spend 11.8 percent or more of their take-home income on student loans in months in which they make a student loan payment.

o Families with higher income levels make larger student loan payments but are less burdened by these payments. In the months in which families made a posi¬tive student loan payment, among families earning less than $50,000, student loan payments represent seven percent of take-home income, com¬pared to five percent or less for families earning more than $50,000.

• Of families actively paying multiple loans, the proportion making consistent payments is lower for student loans than auto loans (10 percentage point difference) and mortgages (6 percentage point difference).

o While multiple-loan families make student loan payments with lower consistency than their other loan payments, this is not just an outcome of juggling multiple payments: families actively paying only student loans make student loan payments with the same consistency.

o 54 percent of families make consistent student loan payments, while 20 percent make payments in two-thirds of months or less.

The report leverages a new JPMorgan Chase Institute data asset consisting of high-frequency financial data from a universe of 39 million de-identified families with Chase checking accounts. From this universe, the JPMorgan Chase Institute identified 30 million core families (i.e., families with substantial activity in their Chase accounts) in the 2012-2018 time period, from which the sample was further narrowed to 4.6 million families that have made at least one student loan payment.

About the JPMorgan Chase Institute

The JPMorgan Chase Institute is a think tank dedicated to delivering data-rich analyses and expert insights for the public good. Its aim is to help decision makers–policymakers, businesses, and nonprofit leaders–appreciate the scale, granularity, diversity, and interconnectedness of the global economic system and use, timely data and thoughtful analysis to make more informed decisions to advance prosperity for all. Drawing on JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s unique proprietary data, expertise, and market access, the Institute develops analyses and insights on the inner workings of the global economy, frames critical problems, and convenes stakeholders and leading thinkers. For more information visit:

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