A case in point: 9 percent of people with no more than a high school degree have some student loan debt, according to a study by the Urban Institute. They may have incurred debt from vocational training or by funding a child's education.
The ability to repay loans is limited for high school graduates with median incomes compared with people with college or graduate degrees. The Urban Institute found that people in households with a family income of $50,000 or less were at least 72 percent more concerned about repaying loans than those in households with income over $100,000.
According to the study, for people ages 20 to 40 with some college but no bachelor's degree, the incidence of debt rose to 41 percent, from 11 percent, between 2010 and 1989. And since household income for this group actually fell between 1991 and 2012, in 2012 dollars, that added debt burden is especially heavy.