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 incidence of student debt has increased in nearly every demographic and economic category, as has the size of that debt.

Going along with the overall increase, 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.

Low-income households have also been hit hard. The relative burden of student loan debt is greatest for households in the bottom fifth of the income spectrum, even though members of such households are less likely than those in other groups to attend college in the first place.

Related study: “Is College Worth It?” Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.