Regardless of your opinion on student loan debt and who should pay for it, it is a significant burden in America. According to WalletHub, it’s “the second-largest type of household debt after mortgages totaling more than $1.6 trillion." As the conversation continues around student loan debt, more information is coming out not just about the average amount of debt per borrower but where those borrowers live, and how much they earn.

WalletHub has a new study showing the ratio of debt to earnings across hundreds of cities. This shows how student loan debt can be a larger burden depending on where you live.  

One Montana city is in the second percentile, meaning the debt-to-earnings ratio is more severe than 98% of the country. 

Here’s a look at the Montana cities in the study and how they rank, as well as the Montana city that ranks in the 2nd percentile.  

PercentileTownMedian Student Loan DebtMedian Earnings of Bachelor's Degree HoldersRatio of Student Debt to Median Earnings of Bachelor’s Degree Holders
51Billings, MT$17,974$55,10732.62%
44Helena, MT$19,091$55,89534.16%
39Great Falls, MT$19,215$54,42035.31%
28Kalispell, MT$17,529$46,05338.06%
16Bozeman, MT$19,544$46,67741.87%
2Missoula, MT$24,659$43,29756.95%

Not only does Missoula rank the highest in the debt-to-earnings ratio, but broken down, borrowers in Missoula also have the highest median debt and the lowest median earnings.

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With Missoula and Bozeman having two of the largest universities in the state, it makes sense that they are the cities with the highest median student debt because many graduates continue to live in the cities where they went to school. Interestingly, Billings has a college and a university--Rocky Mountain College and Montana State University-Billings--and yet has the best ratio in Montana.

Even if Billings is ranked in the 51st percentile, there may be something that the rest of the state could learn.

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