One-in-Five Households Owe Student Loan Debt

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A record one-in-five U.S. households now have student loan debt as college costs continue to rise.

An estimated 19 percent of households owed money on student loans in 2010, up from 15 percent three years earlier, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. The figure is more than double the share two decades ago.

The Associated Press reports that the rise is being driven by higher tuition costs, as well as rising college enrollment during the economic downturn. On average, households owed $26,682 in 2010, up 14.3 percent from 2007 and more than double what they owed in 1995.

The biggest jumps occurred in households at two extremes of the income bracket—the very poor and the very rich. According to the AP, more affluent families are digging deeper into their pockets to pay for costly, private colleges while lower-income workers in search of better jobs are enrolling in public universities and community colleges.

Total student loan debt in the U.S. is approaching $1 trillion, according to a separate report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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