Collectively, the United States owes about $1.1 trillion dollars in college debt. Owing money to a university is basically more American than apple pie at this point. Some new visuals just posted by a Washington research center help tell a clearer story of college debts, and why owing less might not actually translate to a lower financial burden. Using data provided by the Department of Education from autumn of 2015, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth compiled an interactive map, indicating the college loan burden on each zip code in America. Let's see how Los Angeles is doing.
Mapping LA's college loans pretty effectively highlights the great discrepancy between the city's wealthy and poor. Beach communities have a very different post-college experience than those living in Central LA. The zip codes in LA with higher median incomes also tend to have higher average loan balances, but low rates of loan delinquency, indicating those zips are sending their kids to more expensive universities and not sweating the cost too much. Inversely, the neighborhoods with lower median incomes do have lower loan balances, but are unable to keep up with payments even on these less costly loans.
One interesting tidbit, the zip code with the lowest median income in Los Angeles—90089—is home to both USC and one of the highest average loan balances in the city. Not surprising since USC's tuition is now $49,464. It's not too much easier being a Bruin, though—UCLA's zip code has an average loan balance in the "astronomical" range.