Press "Enter" to skip to content

South Dakota Continues to Lead Nation in Student Debt

KSOO notes the latest WalletHub calculations showing that South Dakota has the worst student debt in the nation. Adjusting for cost of living apparently helps a little bit, but given the lower wages students get for their qualifications in South Dakota, it’s not enough to keep South Dakota students from struggling with debt more than their neighbors. KSOO summarizes the regional rankings:

  • South Dakota: #1
  • Minnesota: #8
  • Iowa: #9
  • Montana: #18
  • Nebraska: #25
  • North Dakota: #32
  • Wyoming: #49

South Dakota’s high-ranking student debt isn’t a new problem: we’ve topped other surveys of student debt in past years. Kristi Noem hasn’t used her position in the majority party in Congress to solve that problem. Billie Sutton has pushed needs-based scholarships in the South Dakota Legislature to reduce student debt, but Noem’s Republican colleagues back home have resisted his efforts. Noem says our scholarships are sufficiently “robust” and waves her magic “efficiencies” fairy wand.

Students, graduates, if you want to bring South Dakota’s student debt down, you might want to think about which gubernatorial candidate is serious about helping.


  1. Dana P 2018-08-06 08:11

    Noem is too busy celebrating ice cream day, the hiring of bad ex-IRS employees, growing gov’t with work requirements for SNAP, etc.

    Noem is the check box, low hanging fruit politician. Addressing things like this would require actual intellectual thinking. But it’s easier just to look cute and tickle the thoughts of the low information voter.

  2. Wayne 2018-08-06 09:30

    I would caution the reliance on a single amalgamation score without scrutinizing what goes into it.

    For instance, South Dakota was #2 in highest proportion of students with debt, but wasn’t on the top 5 for highest average amount of student debt (Minnesota was on that list). Unfortunately Wallethub doesn’t provide full tables, just tops & bottoms.

    Interestingly, Minnesota also had a higher percent of student-loan borrowers over age 50 than SD. I don’t know what that metric means – if there are still a higher percent paying off loans at that age, or more taking out loans at that age.

    None of us midwest states showed up at either ends of the “student debt as a percentage of income” graphic, so it seems that our debt is probably commensurate to our wages.

    In any event, looking east for solutions doesn’t seem to be the answer. SD is #1 with a lower level of commitment per student FTE than MN or IA, but it looks like all that extra funding our higher-tax neighbors provide doesn’t really improve dispositions much. So increasing the faucet without fixing the leaky bucket is a good way to waste water. Fix the bucket and adding water will go much farther.

  3. grudznick 2018-08-06 19:47

    Debt can be an asset. Debt tightens a fellow’s worldview.
    And of course, it does wonders for the sphincter too.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-08-06 21:00

    Radical notion: how about we stop the degree chase and get businesses to go back to training their workers?

  5. Debbo 2018-08-06 22:05

    I’m all for what Cory said.

    Minnesota is aware of the student debt issue and considers it an important problem that needs to be solved. Well, the Democrats do. The Russpublicans? Not so much.

    Then there’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVoid of All Humanity working hard to greatly exacerbate the problem.

  6. leslie 2018-08-09 22:10

    Pell grants once were available for 80% of college cost: now, 30%.

  7. Jason 2018-08-09 22:13

    Government funded College tuition distorts the supply and demand economics. When Government got involved tuition skyrocketed. It’s econ 101.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-08-09 23:04

    Yeah, that darned G.I. Bill, thinking it was a good idea to compensate soldiers for their sacrifice and help them reintegrate into civilian life….

  9. Jason 2018-08-09 23:08


    Are you comparing the G.I. BIll to Pell Grants?

    You do know the difference right?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.