Nearly 1 in 5 Households Owe Student-Loan Debt, Report Says

Nineteen percent of households owed student-loan debt in 2010, and that debt burden is greatest at the bottom of the income scale, according to an analysis released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends Project. The analysis uses data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, which is conducted every three years and is sponsored by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury Department.

The report says that the percentage of households with outstanding student-loan debt increased to 19 percent in 2010 from 15 percent in 2007. Among households that owed such debt, the average outstanding balance increased to $26,682 from $23,349 over the same period. Forty percent of all households headed by someone under the age of 35 owed student-loan debt, which is the highest share among any age group, the report says.

The analysis also found that the increases in debt were greatest at the highest and lowest extremes of the income spectrum. “While those at the upper end of the income scale are more likely than others to owe student-loan debt, when one considers the resources that households have at their disposal to meet their debts, the relative burden of student loans is much greater for those at the lower end,” the report says.

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