Student loan debt is on the rise according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. Researchers studied data gathered during the triennial Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) and determined that as of 2010, the most recent year the survey was conducted, 19 percent of American households owed student loan debt.


This figure represents a four percent increase over 2007 numbers when only 15 percent of households owed student loan debt. The 2007 survey was conducted before the Great Recession began to take hold across the country, sending many Americans back to school with the hope that more education would bring better job prospects.


While nearly one in five households owe some sort of student loan debt, the figure rises dramatically when isolating households headed by someone younger than age 35. According to the study, 40 percent of households meeting this definition have student loan debt, which is the highest percentage of any age group.


Other highlights from the report include:


  • Outstanding student loan debt increased from an average of $23,349 in 2007 to $26,682 in 2010.
  • In 2010, 10 percent of households owed more than $61,894 in student loan debt, up from $54,238 in 2007.
  • The bottom 20 percent of income earners held 13 percent of the total outstanding debt, up from 11 percent in 2007.
  • The top 20 percent of income earners held 31 percent of the total outstanding debt, an increase of 3 percent from the 2007 figures.
  • Student debt represented 24 percent of the annual income of households in the bottom 20 percent.

For more information about how student loan debt has grown over the past three years, read the entire Pew report: A Record One-in-Five Households Now Owe Student Loan Debt.

19% of American households owe student loan debt
In 1989, only 9 percent of households owed student loan debt, this figure has jumped to nearly 20 percent as of 2010.