The student debt crisis has inspired various political candidates and figures, including President Joe Biden, to call for mass student loan forgiveness. Proposals call for debt from $ 10,000 in student loans to $ 50,000 in federal student loan debt, but no sweeping action has been taken yet.
With tens of millions of Americans combined with $ 1.58 trillion in student loan debt, it’s no wonder so many are watching the news closely in hopes that their balances will shrink or go.
Student Loan Hero researchers analyzed data from Google Trends to find where users searched most often for information on four related terms: “student loan”, “Biden student loan”, “student loan” and “Biden student loan”. Google Trends indexes its data to 100 to show maximum search interest. Therefore, the researchers averaged the index scores for these four terms for each state. Here is what they found.
- Midwestern residents are the most likely to report student loan terms on Google. Of the 10 states that search the topic most frequently on Google, six are in the Midwest.
- On an individual basis, District of Columbia residents search Google for the student loan terms and conditions most often. Across all four terms, DC scores an average of 89 (remember, a 100 value means highest popularity) on Google Trends. New Hampshire and South Dakota averaged second and third with a tie of 85.
- California, Alaska, and Utah Google terms least relate to student loan issuance. According to the data, residents of the three states Google these terms about half as much as residents of DC
- Student loan debt does not necessarily explain whether residents of a particular state Googled student loan waiver terms. Borrowers in the 10 states that Google lists the most terms have an average student loan debt of $ 35,320. Borrowers in the bottom 10 states owe an average of $ 34,300 – just a difference of $ 1,020.
- Similarly, student loan default rates do not correlate with the states where Google gives the most student loans. The 10 indicates that Google these terms most often have an average failure rate of 10.2%, while the bottom 10 have a failure rate of 10.9%.
Midwest in search of forgiveness
Although the states looking the most for student loan waivers end up in different US regions, the Midwestern states make up more than half of the top 10.
Google Trends indexes its data to 100, which indicates the maximum interest based on a specific time or location. Student Loan Hero researchers examined four terms – student loan, Biden student loan, student loan remission, and Biden student loan – from Jan.
Residents from six states – South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Iowa – appear to be among the top searchers in the US for student loan terms and conditions.
South Dakota is the only state in the Midwest to crack the top 3, with an average search index of 85 for the terms examined.
In all four terms, here is the state that showed the greatest interest in a particular term (all with an index value of 100):
- Student Loans: District of Columbia
- Biden Student Loans: District of Columbia
- Student loan waiver: Wyoming
- Biden Student Loan Granting: Wyoming
In the west, the search for student loans is slacking off
Californians may not have an interest in canceling student debt, as residents of the Golden State Google are the least likely to use these terms. With an average index score of just 39 for all four terms, residents are less than half as likely to focus on their search bar as residents of the District of Columbia.
Four other western states – Alaska, Utah, Nevada, and Hawaii – are among the states, along with California, that are least likely to seek debt relief.
Among the four terms, here is the state that showed the least interest in a particular term (and its index value):
- Student Loans: California (45)
- Biden Student Loans: Alaska (20)
- Student loan waiver: California (50)
- Biden Student Loan Granting: California (19)
The nation’s capital has the most debt, the most searches
Perhaps the density of political professionals is what makes the District of Columbia most interested in these searches. DC residents seem to be more interested in student loans in general, as they rank high in student loan and biden student loan search terms (though they are not far behind in student loan granting).
Interestingly, DC also has the highest average debt per borrower at $ 58,200 – a whopping $ 23,433 more than the average for the 50 states and DC. This may make it less surprising that residents are looking for student debt relief, but it does not indicate a greater correlation between debt balances and search volume.
Student Loan Hero’s senior writer Andrew Pentis believes DC’s political energy is a factor, as any federal student loan forgiveness laws would likely come from the capital, be it the White House or the Capitol.
“You can bet that the people of the DC region are better prepared for the political winds that blow in their own backyard,” says Pentis.
Neither debt nor delinquency fuel searches for forgiveness
One might assume that those with higher college debt are more interested in forgiveness, but they might be wrong. Those who google for student debt relief or similar terms may not have more debt than those who search less frequently.
In the 10 states most frequently searching for student loan terms, borrowers have an average of $ 35,320 in student debt versus $ 34,300 in the 10 least searching.
The small difference – only about $ 1,000 – shows that higher debt levels may not cause borrowers to look for forgiveness options or news. While DC happens to have the top spots for debt balances and remission searches, North Dakota has the lowest average student loan balance ($ 27,800), but it comes in 15th on the search rankings.
Likewise, states with a high search volume are not necessarily more in default on their loans than states with fewer searchers. (Accounts are considered overdue once a borrower misses a payment.)
In the 50 states and DC, 10% of student loan borrowers are in default – and both of the groups of states that are most and least likely to ask have, on average, almost the same proportion of defaulting borrowers. In fact, the 10 states most interested in debt relief have a slightly lower default rate of 10.2%, compared to 10.9% in states that are less term-searching.
Regardless of whether or not residents of certain states search for these terms, people can agree, Pentis says.
“Debt loans harm adults who should be working toward other personal financial goals like buying or maintaining a home and saving up for retirement,” says Pentis.