The roughly 37 million Americanssaddled with $1 trillion in student loan debt may never catch up with wealthypeers who began life after college free from the burden. Experts say thatdisparity is contributing to the widening of the U.S. wealth gap.
University of Kansas researcherWilliam Elliott III says that the median 2009 net worth for a household withoutstudent debt was nearly three times the worth in a household with such debt.
He says that debt-free graduates canbegin building equity in housing or stocks and bonds and get more time to seetheir investments grow, while indebted graduates spend years paying principaland interest.
A 2012 Pew Research Center analysisfound that about 40 percent of households led by someone 35 or younger havestudent debt.
But President Barack Obama and lawmakersin Congress are considering bills meant to address the issue of rising student loan debt. Some of the proposals include: