What does the upper-middle class have in common with the poorer folks of America? Apparently, lots of student loans. The Wall Street Journal ran an analysis of Federal Reserve data, and found that families earning between $94,535 to $205,335 saw the biggest spike in the percentage who owed money (25.6%) over recent years, along with an increase in the average amount owed ($33,000). Rising tuition costs and the down economy are forcing students and their parents to consider less expensive (and less prestigious) schools to compensate.
Compounding the issue, the higher-income families are less likely to get scholarships. Low-income students can expect scholarships to cover about 36% of their cost, but that number drops to 21% for higher-income undergrads. The good news for students: the increase in loans for wealthier families may make it harder for schools, even public ones, to keep raising tuition rates. The bad news: fewer students are getting help from mom and dad, meaning they must tackle the debt themselves after graduation.