Ohio private and federal student loan borrowers owe an average balance of $32,972, 10% less than the national average of $36,689.
While many federal student loan borrowers are getting a temporary payment reprieve through Sept. 30, 2021, due to COVID-related policies, student loan debt — which sits at nearly $1.7 trillion — remains a major political and social concern.
Here’s what borrowers should know about Ohio student loans.
Ohio student loans: Borrowers owe average of $32,972 in federal, private debt — and more facts
Ohio has 23 community colleges for those looking to minimize their student loan debt, plus many public universities with regional campuses. By choosing a smaller college away from urban centers, Ohio postsecondary students could find an area with a lower cost of living to reduce some of their expenses.
Another option is to pursue Ohio scholarships. The Choose Ohio First program, for example, offers scholarships from $3,000 to $5,250 annually to qualifying residents pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) degrees.
The state also funds the Ohio College Opportunity Grant, which awards up to $3,500 to qualifying residents.
Student loan debt in Ohio’s largest counties, from Butler to Summit
Student debt by ZIP code in Ohio’s 3 largest cities: Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati
Loan repayment programs for Ohio residents
If you’re trying to determine how you’ll repay student loans in Ohio, here are some options.
John R. Justice (JRJ) Student Loan Repayment Program
The JRJ Student Loan Repayment Program is for federal or state public defenders or prosecutors in Ohio. Applicants must remain employed for at least three years. In 2020, award amounts were set at $54,575 in the state. The federal program is administered by individual states — in this case, the Ohio Board of Regents.
National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program
Primary care physicians, dentists or mental health care providers can apply for the NHSC Loan Repayment Program in Ohio. Through this program, clinicians can have up to $50,000 of their student loans repaid for up to two years of full-time service at an eligible site in the state.
Nurse Educational Assistance Loan Program (NEALP)
The NEALP offers financial assistance to Ohio students enrolled at least half time in a nurse education program. Nurses who serve in the state for five years can qualify for full cancellation, though the annual award in 2020-21 was $1,620 a year. Due to limited funding, awards are only available to registered nurses and those with higher nursing degrees, as well as master degree instructor candidates.
Students to Service Loan Repayment Program
The National Health Service Corps’ Students to Service Loan Repayment Program is available for physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners or midwives with federal or private student loans. Applicants can receive up to $120,000 in loan repayment for three years of full-time practice in an area with a shortage of medical professionals.
Ohio federal student loan borrowers younger than 25 owe more than national average — and more comparisons
How to refinance student loans in Ohio
More than 6% of borrowers in Ohio owe $100,000 or more in federal student loans, which could make refinancing an attractive strategy. Refinancing your federal and/or private student loans at a lower rate could help reduce interest payments, allowing you to repay your debt faster.
When you refinance your student loans, you obtain a new loan from a private lender, which you use to repay your existing student loans. After that, you repay one student loan.
But it’s important to remember that if you refinance your student loans, you’ll lose government benefits such as:
You should heavily consider your eligibility for these government programs before moving forward with student loan refinancing. Compare multiple lenders online to make sure you’re receiving your best possible offers.
- 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
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 6 lenders of 2021!