If the $1.6 Trillion Student Debt Was Aligned End-to-End It Would Stretch From the Sun to Just Beyond Mars

Political pressure is building to discuss our nation’s $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. In fact, last month more Google searches for “student loan debt” were made than ever before. 1.6 trillion is a difficult number to visualize or wrap your head around. We love playing with data and thought we’d take a unique perspective on this massive number of dollars owed. 

We did the math and found that if the U.S. paid down the entirety of our student loan debt in physical dollars, the line of bills would stretch 155M miles! With astronomical numbers like these, we thought it best to present the data in a in a way Elon Musk might appreciate:

ObjectDistance from Sun (average)
Sun0 miles
Mercury36,800,000 miles
Venus67,200,000 miles
Earth93,000,000 miles
Mars141,600,000 miles
Jupiter483,600,000 miles
Saturn886,500,000 miles
Uranus1,783,700,000 miles
Neptune2,795,200,000 miles
Pluto3,670,100,000 miles

Sources: Northwestern University, NASA

A Note on Planetary Movements 

We’re by no means astrophysicists, but we can tell you that planets (including Earth) revolve around the sun at varying speeds and are never at a fixed, static distance away from Earth, The Sun, or each other. Mars, for example, can be as close to Earth as 34M miles but other times is 250M miles away. NASA says the average distance is about 140M miles away.  Planets also revolve around the sun in elliptical orbits so sometimes they are slightly closer or further away from the sun. The above numbers are averages.

A quick look at the math & student debt statistics we used

  • Total Student Debt Held in the US: $1.6 Trillion (source)
  • Length of a Dollar Bill:  6.14 inches (source)
  • 1.6T Dollars * 6.14 Inches  = 9.8T Inches818B feet = 155M Miles 
  • Length of 1.6T Dollars: 155M Miles / 250M km

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Image Credit: PayPau/Getty Images

Reviewed by

  • Andrea Perez
    Andrea Perez
    Personal Finance Editor

    Andrea Perez is an editor at The Simple Dollar who leads our news and opinion coverage. She specializes in financial policy, banking, and investing.