The share of American households affected by student debt has more than doubled in the last two decades, soaring from 9% in 1989 to a record of nearly one in five in 2010.
The 19% of households weighed down by school loans is higher even than 2007, when 15% owed money for their education, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data.
Young people are especially hard hit, as are poorer Americans. Among households headed by someone younger than age 35, four in 10 have student debt on the books.
For the those with incomes in the lowest fifth nationwide, school loans are equal to nearly a quarter of income. The same group holds 13% of all student debt in the country, up from 11% in 2007.