A record 1 in 5 homes has student loan debt

Jessica Brothers
CBS News

(CBS News) A growing number of Americans need to work just to pay off their student loans.

A study out Wednesday says that 19 percent of households in 2010 had student loan debt. The average balance was more than $26,000 -- a fourteen percent increase in three years.

Jessica Brothers, 28, has a bachelor's degree and is pursuing a master's degree -- and she owes $85,000 in college loans.

"I didn't expect it to cost that much. When I started I was just pursing what I wanted to do in school and what my passion was," Brothers said.

Brothers used to attend a private college, where tuition was more than $30,000 per year. To save money, she transferred to Brooklyn College, where annual tuition is just over $5,000.

"It puts on pressure to make sure I get that good paying job to make sure I can pay these loans back," Brothers said.

One in ten families paying down student debt now owes nearly $62,000 - $7,000 more than just three years earlier.

The total of U.S. student loan debt has surpassed $1 trillion.

While the student debt is rising, average starting salaries for college grads has risen only slightly, to $44,259.

Jessica Brothers said with her degrees she can expect around $50,000 salary per year to start.

Brothers enters the job market next year. Right now, she's earning enough with her part-time job at the student center, to keep up with her $70 per month payments. But those payments will balloon to $300 per month next year.

"I may be paying for the rest of my life, but I do want to pay back my loans," Brothers said.

She'll be paying whether or not she's landed that dream job.

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.