Study Shows 1 in 5 Households Hold Student Loan Debt

By Catherine Groux
Posted October 01, 2012 12:00 PM

Today, many American households hold student loan debt.
Today, many American households hold student loan debt.
As the cost of college continues to rise, countless Americans are burdened by the weight of their student loans. According to new data from the Pew Research Center, about one in five households owed student debt in 2010, up from only 15% in 2007. These households reported an average student loan balance of $26,682.

While it may come as a surprise, Americans of all incomes hold this debt after earning a college degree. Although the least affluent fifth of households held 13% of the outstanding debt, the richest fifth owned 31%. Still, it is the least wealthy families who have the more difficult time paying back their student loans, as these debts accounted for 24% of their total income in 2010, compared to only 2% among the richest Americans.

Despite the heavy cost of pursuing higher education, the Pew Research Center has stated in previous reports that a college degree is still a wise investment. Today, the average college graduate earns about $650,000 more over the course of their careers than high school diploma holders. For this reason, about 86% of college graduates believe their education was a good investment.

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