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Student Loan Debt Weighing Down the Young and Poor

JupiterImages/Comstock Images(NEW YORK) -- Millions who've gone to college say they owe a lot to their education.

Unfortunately, millions still owe a lot for their education, with close to 20 percent of all U.S. households saddled with student loan debt as of 2010.

That's over double of what it was 20 years earlier, with most of the crushing burden of debt having fallen on the backs of those who are young, poor or both.

In 2010, the Pew Research Center computed that the average outstanding debt was nearly $26,700 and the total owed nationally as of earlier this year was $914 billion.

These mountains of IOUs are based predominantly on two factors: college tuition that easily outpaces the annual rate of inflation and federal government borrowing limits now exceeding $30,000, compared to a ceiling of $7,500 during the 1960s.

Since those on the top rung of the income scale send more people to college, they hold almost a third of the debt.

However, the poor owed a far greater share of what they earned since student debt eats up a quarter of the lower fifth's yearly income.

Meanwhile, heads of households under the age of 35 account for 40 percent of the student debt, a staggering jump from 17 percent in 1989.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio