Some Things the US Total Student Loan Debt is Bigger Than

Issues of student debt move in and out of the news spotlight from time to time.  As individuals, the vast majority of us have student loans, had student loans, or know many people who do.  But one graphic from popular ‘nerd humor’ comic XKCD (described as such with love!) really puts the issue in perspective.  

At the time this chart was put out (2011), the total value of outstanding student loans in the US-over $955 billion-was bigger than:

  • Total annual spending on all primary and secondary education in the US ($612B)
  • The endowments of the 63 wealthiest universities in the US combined ($277.5B), by a factor of more than 3
  • The combined annual profit of all the companies in the Fortune 500 ($708.6B)
  • All state taxes collected nationwide ($642B) 

And many other things.  Check out the graphic for yourself!  The student loan section is in the leftmost part of the ‘billions’ box.

Of course, these figures are all changing over time, but with outstanding student debt having surpassed $1 trillion back in 2012, it’s likely many of these comparisons have only gotten worse.

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