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What college grads could buy without student loan debt

  • What college grads could buy without student loan debt

    America's student debt landscape consists of a ghastly set of numbers that would be hard to believe if 44 million borrowers didn't receive bills every month. Tens of millions of Americans took on an average debt of $39,400 each to access higher education. The average monthly payment among these individuals is $351, for a combined debt of about $1.48 trillion.

    The things those borrowers or the country as a whole could buy if those debts were erased are stunning. America's combined student loan debt, after all, is greater than the purchasing power of all but 22 of the world's highest-GDP countries. The hundreds of dollars borrowers spend every month to satisfy their debts, the tens of thousands they owe individually and the nearly trillion-and-a-half dollars they owe as a group can buy a staggering number of homes, cars, planes and even entire annual budgets.

    Here's a shopping list of things that could be bought if America’s student loan debt vanished.

    ALSO: States spending the most and least on student education



  • More than 5.3 million typical American homes

    As of July 2018, the median listing price across all homes in the U.S. hit $278,900. The $1.48 trillion owed by student debt borrowers is equivalent to just over 5.3 million homes at that sales price. According to the National Association of Realtors, 83% of student loan borrowers aged 22 to 35 who do not own a home blame their student debt for their inability to buy.

  • A luxury crossover

    The 2018 Land Rover Discovery Sport has a fair market price of $39,671. With average student loans reaching $39,400, all 44 million U.S. borrowers could instead purchase a luxury SUV at a comparable debt burden. Total U.S. auto sales reached 17.25 million in 2017.

  • 5,920 F-22s

    America's most expensive fighter jet is the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. At a cost of $250 million each, America's combined $1.48 trillion student loan debt is comparable to 5,920 of these advanced military aircraft.

  • The combined budgets for Medicare and Medicaid

    America's biggest federal budget item is the combined budgets for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services programs, responsible for facilitating health insurance across the country, with a budget reaching $1.06 trillion in 2017. America's $1.48 trillion in student loan debt far exceeds both programs, with nearly $400 billion leftover.  

  • A tiny house

    Eco-friendly Nomad tiny homes start at $39,000. If the average student borrower could allocate from education loans to micro home financing, they could icozy up in 200 square feet of living space with $400 left over to decorate. 

  • An island in Nova Scotia

    The undeveloped, 1.4-acre Hemlow Island in Nova Scotia can be yours for $21,944.76—forest and all. If they could wipe their debt clean, the average student borrower could instead finance their own private paradise with $17,455.24 left over to build a cabin.

  • A home recording studio

    The Recording Revolution maps out a plan to build your own home recording studio for just $350. For the cost of satisfying a single average month of student loan debt, the borrower could finance a recording studio high-quality enough to launch a music career.

  • 21 shares of Amazon stock

    Amazon stock hit crossed the $2,000 mark for the first time ever on August 30, reaching a high of $2,025.57 per share. You could buy nearly 20 shares with financing equivalent to the $39,400 that the average borrower owes in student loan debt.

  • South Korea's entire GDP

    South Korea's nominal gross domestic product hit $1.53 trillion in 2017, making it the 11th-largest economy in the world. America's combined $1.48 trillion in student loan debt measures just less than the total economic activity of this southeast Asia country.

  • An iPhone X for everyone in China and the UK

    You can pick up a brand new iPhone X for $999. The number of iPhones you could buy with America's combined $1.48 trillion in student debt translates to 1.48 billion. With a projected 1.415 billion people living in China, that's enough to buy everyone an iPhone and still have around 65 million to spare for the population of the United Kingdom. 

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