American Association of University Women Report Finds Women Hold Two-Thirds of the Country’s Student Loan Debt

According to a new report from the American Association of University Women, women hold almost two-thirds ($929 billion) of the country’s $1.46 trillion in student debt.

“Student loan debt is very much a women’s issue,” says Kim Churches, CEO of AAUW. “Sadly, as women graduate, they are already at a significant financial disadvantage, with higher debt and lower pay in their first jobs than men.”

The report found that the student loan gender gap has nearly doubled in a recent four-year period; women now graduate with an average of $2,700 more debt then men when earning a bachelor’s degree. This disparity is even more severe for women of color; Black women, on average, graduate with $30,400 in debt, compared to $22,000 for White women and $19,500 for White men. Additionally, all women take about two years longer than men to repay student loans and are more likely to struggle economically as they do so. As a result, they often put off saving for retirement, buying a home, or starting a business.

The authors state that the gender pay gap, wherein women earn 80 cents for every dollar paid to men, prohibits women from paying off their loans as fast as their male counterparts. Additionally, the cost of a college education has increased by 103 percent since 1987, while median household income has only risen by 14 percent in the same time period.

Meanwhile, the graduating Class of 2019 is the most racially and ethnically diverse U.S. college student body ever, and women represent 57 percent of all earned bachelor’s degrees this year. In fact, women are outpacing men in obtaining degrees at all levels of higher education.

In order to combat this student loan crisis, the AAUW is urging lawmakers to expand Pell Grants and other forms of aid, support efforts towards tuition and debt-free options for students, and help meet students academic and financial needs. The AAUW also stressed that there needs to be more federal policies aimed at closing the gender pay gap.

“As an organization committed to gender equity, we support policies that make higher education accessible to all students, protect student borrowers, and help eliminate the gender and race gaps in loan debt,” says Churches.

The full report, Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans, may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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