Just how bad is America’s student debt crisis? You have to see it to believe it.

According to Creditnews's Student Debt Tracker, the total value of outstanding federal and private student debt is at $1.73 trillion—with federal loans accounting for 92% of that total.

After more than three years of loan forbearance, 22 million borrowers had their first resumed payment due in October, but only 13 million of them have settled their bills so far.

Experts think this is not a temporary oversight but a “massive student debt strike” as recipients await progress on student debt relief.

Another round of loan forgiveness is scheduled for next month as the Biden-Harris administration fast-tracked the debt relief timeline for the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan.

Starting February, eligible SAVE borrowers—those who have made at least 10 years of monthly payments and originally took out $12,000 or less—will reportedly have their debts canceled, with no action on their part.

Student debt demographics

Unsurprisingly, Millennials and mid-career Americans have the highest share of the student debt pie. According to the tracker, recipients aged 25 to 34 hold 32.9% of the total federal debt. There are just over 15 million borrowers in this category.

They’re neck-and-neck with borrowers in the 35 to 49 age bracket. This group accounts for 31.9% of the total federal debt. There are nearly 14.6 million people in this category.

The youngest borrowers—those under the age of 24—have the third highest share, accounting for 15.6% of the total federal student loan debt.

Overall, men and women take on comparable debt, and this is true across all racial and ethnic groups. However, Black Americans have the highest average debt balance ($35,665 for men and $37,558 for women).

White Americans come in second ($29,862 for men and $31,346 for women). Among Hispanic and Latino Americans, the average debt balance is $27,029 for men and $27,452 for women.

Asian Americans have the lowest debt balance of any group ($25,507 for men and $25,252 for women).

On a geographic level, states with the most indebted borrowers are California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Georgia. On the flip side, Wyoming is the least indebted state, followed by Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, and South Dakota.

The composition of student debt balances

The Creditnews Student Debt Tracker also breaks down student borrowers by their total debt balances.

Roughly 9.1 million Americans have student loan balances between $20,000 and $40,000—this is the single largest group of borrowers. Collectively, they owe $257.8 billion in student loan debt.

But despite being the largest segment, borrowers with balances between $20,000 and $40,000 don’t owe the greatest amount of debt. That distinction belongs to a much smaller group of borrowers.

The 2.1 million borrowers who owe between $100,000 and $200,000 have a combined $284.7 billion in total student debt—more than any other group.

Similarly, borrowers who owe more than $200,000 are the smallest category of student loan recipients, amounting to just 800,000 people. However, they collectively owe $244.2 billion.