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Percentage of graduates owing $20,000 in student debt doubles in 10 years

  • The percentage of borrowers with $50,000 in student debt tripled in the last decade, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Outstanding college-loan balances now stand near $1.4 trillion.

As college costs rise and incomes fail to keep pace, the problem of student loan debt has become exponentially worse.

Now, nearly half of student loan borrowers owe at least $20,000 when they graduate, double the share a decade ago, according to a recent report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Meanwhile, the percentage of borrowers who owe $50,000 or more has tripled over the same time period.

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Fewer are also paying down their debt within five years, the report said.

"People are taking on more student debt later in life, and having a tougher time paying it back," CFPB director Richard Cordray said in a statement.

Student debt has skyrocketed more than 256 percent from 2004 to 2015, according to a separate report from ValuePenguin.

Outstanding college-loan balances at the end of the first quarter of 2017 totaled $1.34 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That's up $34 billion from the end of 2016.

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