Top 10 Cities With The Most Student Debt Have Another Thing In Common: No Legal Weed


LendingTree, a lending website, published a new study that highlighted the US metropolitan areas with the highest student loan balances.


The study's publication hits at an essential time during the national discussion around student debt. Total student loan debt has reached $1.6 trillion, which will have a huge negative impact on borrowers during the next economic downturn, which experts are saying is right around the corner. The study points to the cities where millennials will suffer the most significant financial distress when the next recession hits.


Student debt is the fastest-growing consumer debt in the country, with $1.6 trillion outstanding, cracks are already starting to appear with 22% of borrowers defaulting.


Around 70% of the cities and suburban areas with the highest median student loan balances are located in the South, including huge balances in Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and the Carolinas. These areas are known for deindustrialization, opioid addiction, and low developed economic activity. Also, strict laws on marijuana sales. Coincidence, I think not.


Millennials will be the most financial impacted in the next recession due to their debt load, and thanks to LendingTree's study, the exact metro areas of this financial stress are now known. Another interesting part of the study is that 3 of the top 4 most indebted metro areas are in states without recreational marijuana. So if you want to live in a better place with less debt and more weed, don’t move to these three places. Washington, DC, has recreational marijuana, but borrowers carry the highest student debt median balance of $29,314. And these are the people that lead our country! About 15% of borrowers in Washington, DC owe more than six figures, the highest percentage among the 100 metros surveyed. Now onto the list.


1. Washington, D.C. (Median balance: $29,314)


Almost half of the people over the age of 25 in Washington, D.C. have obtained a postsecondary degree that’s much higher than the 28% of all Americans who’ve earned a bachelor’s or higher.


Nearly 1 out of 4 have professional or graduate degrees in Washington, D.C., double the national rate of 10.5%. Having so many degrees help explain why Washington also has the highest percentage of student debt holders who owe more than $100,000.


The high debt load doesn’t mean these DC borrowers are in financial crisis, as most completed their degrees and are earning money now. Almost 22% of Americans left college before finishing. This is not the case for DC as only 16.5% left college before graduating. Good thing we have all these smart people running the Empire, they may have high debt loads, but at least they legalized weed.


2. Atlanta (Median balance: $28,706)


Atlanta is a highly educated city, 37% of Atlanta residents ages 25 and older have finished at least a four-year education, and nearly 14% have a graduate or professional degree, which is higher than the country as a whole.


However, this doesn’t explain why about 13% owe more than $100,000, well above the 8.7% average of US metros. The area is home to a lot of higher learning institutions, including Georgia State University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, Spelman College, and Morehouse College. 


Maybe all the need for so professors help to explain why Atlanta is more educated and in more student debt than the nation as a whole. It certainly isn't’ the weed because it is isn’t legal there.


Unfortunately, 1 in 5 in Atlanta left college before finishing school, which is in line with the rest of the country.


3. Charleston, S.C. (Median balance: $27,591)


Charleston, S.C. finished in third by a narrow margin. One of the surprising facts is the average borrower here has 4.6 loans, more than any of the 99 other metros in the study.


More students going to university also equals more student loans overall: About 34% of the metro area’s population has at least a bachelor’s degree, beating the national average of 28%.


4. Akron, Ohio (Median balance: $27,363)


High balances brought Akron into the top five of metros with the most educational debt. About 45% of borrowers in the Akron, Ohio metro area had at least $50,000 in student debt and more than 13% of borrowers were stuck with a six-figure debt ball and chain.


The moral of the study is to smoke more legal weed and stay of out debt.