San Francisco has ranked second in the nation among cities that take the longest to pay off student debt, according to a new report on a Student Loan Hero blog by Lending Tree, a company that provides advice to borrowers.
According to the report, the standard plan for student loan repayment is 10 years, but in San Francisco 10.8% of mature loans (5 or more years) are older than 15 years, and 3.3% are over 20 years old. The only U.S. city with more loans of that duration is New Orleans.
The median balance of a student loan 15 years or older in San Francisco is $4,128, nearly three times higher than that of the city that ranked third on the list (Columbia).
Nationally, student loan debt is at its highest level ever at $1.56 trillion.
In comparison, San Diego comes in ninth on the list, with 9.8% of student loans older than 15 years. But the median balance of those loans is $1,211 less than those of the same category in San Francisco.
In some regions, such as New Orleans and Columbia, the reason borrowers may take longer to pay off loans is that they have a lower income than the national average of $51,960.
However, in San Francisco the average income is $72,400 — nearly half again as much as the rest of the nation. But, as San Franciscans know all too well, the cost of living is also much higher — 96.3% higher, in fact, according to Kiplinger. This high cost of living means that residents have less disposable income, which could account for why so many borrowers are still paying off their student debts after 15 or 20 years.