NYC center named one of worst for student debt

Central New York is home to one of the worst cities in the United States for student debt, according to a new study.

An analysis by WalletHub named Ithaca, NY, as one of the 10 most indebted cities. Ithaca, home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, has a median student debt of $25,041 and a 78.02% ratio of student loan debt to median employment earnings for college graduates; the median income of bachelor’s degree holders ages 25 and older in Ithaca is $32,097.

Only nine other cities nationwide had a higher ratio of student debt to median income: Selma, Alabama; Ypsilanti, Mich.; Avon Park, Florida; Cordele, Georgia; Ridgeland, Mississippi; McComb, Mississippi; Orangeburg, South Carolina; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Ashland, Kentucky. Including Ithaca, 37 American cities are in the first percentile of the most over-indebted cities.

Williamsville, NY, had the highest median student debt in upstate New York at $26,972, but bachelor’s degree holders earn an average of $48,788, a 55% ratio of student debt to income. In other words, suburban Buffalo residents are likely to repay their school loans faster than their Ithaca counterparts.

Syracuse has a median student debt of $20,872, but the average income for bachelor’s graduates is $43,443, a 48% debt-to-earnings ratio. This places the city that is home to Syracuse University in the 17th percentile for most over-indebted cities.

Only 28 of the 2,510 US cities in the study had average student debt of $30,000 or more. Southlake, Texas had the highest median student debt at $41,094, but graduates have a median income of $112,374 for a debt-to-income ratio of 36%.

Among the least over-indebted cities, seven of the top 10 were located in California. Bronxville was the only place in New York State among the 10 cities with the lowest student debt as a proportion of income.

Median student loan balances are based on TransUnion data as of September 2021, compared to median incomes of adults 25 and older with bachelor’s degrees in each city. The methodology’s sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metropolitan area. Rankings were then established by assigning 100 points to the city with the highest student debt-to-income ratio and 0 to the city with the lowest, and linearly extrapolating the data between the two extremes for the intermediate cities.

According to WalletHub, student loans are the second-largest form of household debt after mortgages, totaling a record $1.61 trillion, or an average of $37,000 per borrower. Federal student loan payments have been suspended until May 1 due to the continued strain of the Covid-19 pandemic, and some have been forgiven, but the financial crisis still hangs over millions of Americans.

10 most over-indebted cities

Selma, Alabama

Ypsilanti, MI

Avon Park, Florida

Cordele, Georgia

Ridgeland, Mississippi

McComb, Mississippi

Orangeburg, South Carolina

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Ashland, Kentucky

Ithaca, New York

10 least over-indebted cities

Vienna, Virginia

Fremont, California

Menlo Park, California

Sammamish, Washington

Milpitas, California

Gilroy, California

Delano, California

Bronxville, NY

Sunnyvale, California

Coachella, California

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About Teresa G. Wilson

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