Report: 1 in 5 U.S. Households Carry Student Debt

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 27 2012 1:50 PM

Roughly 20 Percent of American Households Are Carrying At Least Some Student Debt

143309523
According to reports, one-half of recent college graduates with bachelor's degrees are underemployed or jobless

Photograph by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

The Pew Research Center this week released a snapshot of the nation's student debt. In short, it's not a pretty picture. Roughly 1 in 5 American households either had outstanding student-loan debt or loans in deferment, according to data from 2010, the most current available. The 19-percent figure is particularly striking because it's up 4 points from 2007, and is twice what it was two decades ago.

When one drills down deeper into the report, it becomes clear that it is the youngest generation that bears the biggest burden. Among households headed by those 35 and younger, 40 percent have some form of student debt.

Advertisement

The other two types of households that have the largest chunks of national student debt are those at the high and low ends of the gross income spectrum. If you were to divide American households into five groups, according to income, you would find that those in the bottom fifth account for 13 percent of the debt, while those in the top fifth owe 31 percent of it, according to Pew's math.

Pew's Richard Fry offers a little perspective on those numbers:

“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. In 2010 outstanding student debt was nearly a quarter (24%) of the household income of the lowest fifth of households by annual income. By comparison, households in the ninth decile of household income owed only 7 cents of student debt for every dollar of household income received, and those in the tenth decile (90 percent and higher) owed just 2 cents of student debt for every dollar of household income.”

The report also found that the average student loan balance increased from $23,349 to $26,682 between 2007 and 2010, while student debt as a share of household debt also grew from 3 percent to 5 percent over that same period.

You can read the full report (and check out a bounty of handy graphics) over at the Pew Research Center.

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company

Science

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 18 2014 10:42 AM Scalia’s Liberal Streak The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 11:25 AM Gays on TV: From National Freakout to Modern Family Fun
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM Where Pregnant Women Aren't Allowed to Work After 36 Weeks  
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 11:48 AM Watch the Hilarious First Sketch From Season 4 of Key & Peele
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 10:07 AM “The Day It All Ended” A short story from Hieroglyph, a new science fiction anthology.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.