College Guide


September 27, 2012 4:20 PM Too Much Debt

By Daniel Luzer

Americans are holding a lot of education debt. And a lot more than they used to. According to a new report by the Pew Research Center:

About one out of five (19%) of the nation’s households owed student debt in 2010, more than double the share two decades earlier and a significant rise from the 15% that owed such debt in 2007.
The Pew Research analysis also finds that a record 40% of all households headed by someone younger than age 35 owe such debt, by far the highest share among any age group.

What’ s more, the debt isn’t exactly evenly distributed across social classes. While people from all income groups assessed hold education debt, the report reveals that the ratio of outstanding student debt to income was dramatically higher for the lowest fifth of households by income.


While total student debt made up an average 6 percent of American household incomes, the debt ate up almost a quarter of the annual household incomes of America’s poor families.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer


  • Sam Jackson on September 28, 2012 11:08 AM:

    Really? Average debt load of ~4.8K in the lowest quintile is too much debt for higher education?