10 cities where college graduates owe more than they earn

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Cleveland residents hold an average of $56,922 in student loan debt.
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iStock / PapaBear

Students rack up thousands of dollars in loans working their way through college on the assumption that a degree opens doors to the high-paying jobs that will help them pay it all off and become financially independent. But unfortunately, that’s not always true.

Despite increases in student loan debt, not all local economies are equipped to offer the salaries necessary for graduates to get out of the red.

Credit Sesame, a credit and loan management company, took a look at the places where the median annual income for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher is less than the average student loan balance. In short, places where graduates owe more than they’re earning.

To find these cities, Credit Sesame analyzed its database of over eight million people, comparing average student loan debt per person to median annual household income in locations with a minimum of 350 Credit Sesame members.

While cities like San Francisco and New York have a high cost of living, the prevalence of lucrative jobs in tech and finance tempers the debt-to-income ratio. Credit Sesame found that cities without a major industry like these typically offer lower salaries, so residents remain saddled with debt.

Read on to see 10 cities where college graduates earn less per year on average than they owe in student loans.


10. Richmond, Virginia

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Taber Andrew Bain/Flickr

Average student loan balance per person: $52,810

Median salary for graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree: $42,499

Debt-to-income ratio: 124%


9. Nashville, Tennessee

source
Shutterstock

Average student loan balance per person: $52,253

Median salary for graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree: $42,016

Debt-to-income ratio: 124%


8. Dayton, Ohio

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Shutterstock

Average student loan balance per person: $43,144

Median salary for graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree: $33,762

Debt-to-income ratio: 128%


7. St. Louis

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Facebook/Washington University in St. Louis

Average student loan balance per person: $53,120

Median salary for graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree: $41,391

Debt-to-income ratio: 128%


6. Atlanta

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Average student loan balance per person: $66,403

Median salary for graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree: $51,548

Debt-to-income ratio: 129%


5. Buffalo, New York

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iStock / Jacek_Sopotnicki

Average student loan balance per person: $50,534

Median salary for graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree: $38,502

Debt-to-income ratio: 131%


4. Hollywood, Florida

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City of Hollywood, Florida Government/Facebook

Average student loan balance per person: $55,646

Median salary for graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree: $41,531

Debt-to-income ratio: 134%


3. Cleveland

source
iStock / PapaBear

Average student loan balance per person: $56,922

Median salary for graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree: $42,069

Debt-to-income ratio: 135%


2. Columbia, South Carolina

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Akhenaton06/Wikimedia Commons

Average student loan balance per person: $57,339

Median salary for graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree: $40,128

Debt-to-income ratio: 143%


1. Birmingham, Alabama

source
Shutterstock/Sean Pavone

Average student loan balance per person: $60,184

Median salary for graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree: $39,868

Debt-to-income ratio: 151%