Interactive Maps Detail Burden of Student Debt in the Bay Area

A new interactive mapping tool released today by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco provides an in-depth look at student loan borrowing and repayment in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

The online mapping tool allows people to identify and analyze differences in student loan debt at a community-by-community level. Average median loan balances, delinquency and default rates are searchable by zip code, with an option to compare results with other nearby zip codes. The resulting maps show how student loan debt varies widely at the zip code level, identifying neighborhoods where borrowing rates are much higher and where delinquencies and defaults are concentrated. Although higher education is a critical driver of financial security and economic mobility, the maps show how many communities suffer from heavy student debt.

“The interactive maps show us the neighborhoods with the highest rates of student loan delinquency and default, many of which are low-income communities and communities of color,” said contributing author to the report, Bina Shrimali, DrPH, of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. “The maps help us recognize and better understand who is suffering from financial distress related to student debt by showing student borrowing and repayment outcomes by zip code within the nine-county region.”

The maps created by the tool expand on findings from At What Cost? Student Loan Debt in the Bay Area, a report co-authored with the San Francisco Treasurer’s Office of Financial Empowerment. The report found that, adjusting for inflation, total student debt in the Bay Area increased by 243 percent between 2003 and 2018. The percentage of the adult population with student loan debt increased from 6.2 percent to 12.2 percent and borrowers currently in default increased from 3.8 percent to 9.1 percent over that time. Negative impacts are concentrated in neighborhoods with high percentages of Black and Hispanic residents, such as Bayview, Hunters Point and Treasure Island. The mapping tool uses data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax and the American Community Survey.

“These maps provide remarkable focus on how student loan debt is imposing a crushing burden on hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents, while perpetuating and expanding the racial wealth gap,” said Treasurer José Cisneros. “I want to commend the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco for this invaluable tool to help policymakers – and cities – chart a path towards change.”

Visit to check out the new interactive mapping tool and read the full report. Or, use our voice search feature by clicking on the microphone in the search bar and saying ‘student loan debt.’

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (SF Fed) serves the public by promoting a healthy, sustainable economy, and supporting the nation’s financial and payment systems. With offices in Los Angeles, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Portland and Phoenix, the Bank serves the Twelfth Federal Reserve District, which includes one-fifth of the nation’s population and represents the world’s fourth-largest economy. As part of the nation’s central bank, the SF Fed informs monetary policy, regulates banks, administers certain consumer protection laws and acts as a financial partner to the U.S. government.