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New Hampshire borrowers have an average federal and private student loan debt balance of $32,454, 12% lower than the U.S. average of $36,689.

The state offers multiple tuition waivers and scholarship programs to help make college affordable for students, including the New Hampshire Scholars Program, Granite Guarantee and Governor’s Scholarship Program.

Despite these programs, New Hampshire House Finance Committee subcommittees in March 2021 voted to remove a student loan forgiveness program from the state budget. This presents an ongoing financial challenge for students who’ve had to borrow federal and New Hampshire student loans to cover college costs.

New Hampshire student loans: Borrowers owe average of $32,454 in federal, private debt

Borrowers in New Hampshire carry an average balance of $32,454 in federal and private student loans.

New Hampshire student debt overview
Average balance $32,454
Total outstanding debt $7.5 billion
Number of borrowers 0.2 million
Average total monthly payment $296
Note: Averages include federal and private student loan debt.

Among its New England neighbors, New Hampshire has an average student loan balance in the middle of the pack. Vermont has the highest average student loan balance in the region at $35,276, while Rhode Island has the lowest average student debt in the region — and eighth-lowest in the nation — at $30,225. Overall, New Hampshire ranks 29th for student loan debt among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Below is the state rankings for federal and private student debt across the U.S.:

Student loan debt in New Hampshire’s largest counties, from Hillsborough to Rockingham

Student loan debt in most populous New Hampshire counties
County Average student loan balance Average monthly student loan payment
Hillsborough $33,249 $306
Rockingham $35,363 $331
Note: Limited to counties with a population of at least 300,000 residents; averages include federal and private student loan debt.

3 things to know about going to college in New Hampshire

Granite State residents attending college in New Hampshire should be aware of the following:

  • Legislators cut state student loan forgiveness program: In March 2021, state House Finance Committee subcommittees voted to eliminate a student loan forgiveness program from its budget. Funding will be redirected to other higher-ed programs, including the Governor’s Scholarship Program. The Governor’s Scholarship Program awards qualified low-income students with up to $2,000 per academic year for four years.
  • Up to 4 years free with the Granite Guarantee: Qualified first-time students attending the University of New Hampshire, Keene State College or Plymouth State University, as well as Community College System of New Hampshire campuses, can receive up to four years of tuition-free education.
  • Plenty of institutions to choose from: Students can choose from seven campuses in the Community College System of New Hampshire and six campuses in the state’s University System. The state is also home to numerous private colleges, including Ivy League institution Dartmouth College.

Loan repayment programs for New Hampshire residents

New Hampshire borrowers who are already in repayment can explore various loan repayment programs to reduce their student debt balance faster.

John R. Justice (JRJ) Program

Federal and state prosecutors and public defenders may qualify for loan repayment assistance under the JRJ Program. This federal grant program requires a minimum service commitment of three years. For the 2020 fiscal year, New Hampshire received $32,859 in JRJ funding.

New Hampshire Loan Forgiveness Program

The New Hampshire Loan Forgiveness Program is a state-funded repayment assistance program available to licensed health care workers who practice in underserved areas of New Hampshire. After completing a minimum three-year service agreement (two years, if part time), participants qualify for $75,000 in loan forgiveness for full-time work (or $27,500 with part-time service).

Private Practice Dentists State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP-PPD)

The SLRP-PPD is a pilot loan repayment program created to attract private-practice dentists to priority service locales in New Hampshire. In exchange for a three-year service commitment, in-state dentists can receive up to $75,000 in student loan repayment assistance.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

New Hampshire borrowers who work full time at a local, state, federal or tribal government employer, or a nonprofit employer, might qualify for PSLF. Participants must have federal direct loans in good standing and make 120 qualifying payments under an income-driven repayment plan while working with an eligible employer.

After fulfilling the payment requirement, the remainder of their direct loan balance would be forgiven, tax-free.

New Hampshire federal student loan borrowers younger than 25 owe more than national average — plus a look at payment status

How to refinance New Hampshire student loans

Borrowers who don’t qualify for student loan forgiveness programs might consider a student loan refinance to lower their student debt. Student loan refinancing can be particularly advantageous for the 6.5% of New Hampshire student loan borrowers who owe $100,000 or more in student loans.

Refinancing combines federal and private student loans into a manageable loan with a different interest rate and terms. Since refinancing is offered by private lenders, borrowers with strong credit receive the most competitive interest rates.

If a borrower accepts a refinance offer, the refinancing lender repays the original debt, and the borrower makes payment to the refinancing lender. Before moving forward, New Hampshire borrowers should use a student loan payment calculator to determine how much money this repayment strategy could save them.

But although refinancing can be helpful in some situations, there are downsides. Refinancing federal loans removes them from the federal student loan system. As a private refinance loan, borrowers are ineligible for government benefits, including student loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans. They also lose access to extended forbearance and deferment periods. Some private lenders provide forbearance and deferment options, but these often differ from those of federal programs and aren’t guaranteed.

Paying Off $93,000 Student Loan Debt in Concord

Sources

  • U.S. Department of Education data as of June 30, 2020
  • Anonymized My LendingTree June 2020 credit reports
  • Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax as of June 2020
  • mappingstudentdebt.org

Because the latter data is from 2015, researchers estimated the increase in student loan debt per borrower in the state using statewide data from anonymized credit reports.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!

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