Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans

Student loan debt is now a $1.3-trillion problem burdening 44 million borrowers. Experts are talking about the effects of student debt on the economy, but they aren’t talking about its disproportionate effects on women.

Deeper in DebtAAUW’s new research report, Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans, takes a close look at that oversight. Women’s success in postsecondary education helps shrink the gender pay gap and open up opportunities, but at what price? Women not only take on more student debt than men do, but women also pay back their loans more slowly in part because of the gender pay gap.

As outstanding student loans surpass every other form of non-mortgage debt, it is becoming increasingly expensive to finance a college degree. Nearly 40 million people are saddled with student loan debt, totaling nearly $1.2 trillion in loans. Seventy-one percent of college seniors who graduated in 2012 have loan debt, averaging $30,000 per bachelor’s degree. Though debt is a crisis for all students, the burden falls even harder on women because of the persistent gender pay gap.

Reforms needed to bring down student debt include:

  • bring down college costs
  • expand programs like Pell grants
  • make financial aid more accessible
  • educate more graduates about programs like income-based and income-contingent loan repayment plans and public service loan forgiveness
  • encourage Congress to make student loan refinancing a reality.

This is a summary of a post written by AAUW Public Policy intern Beth Rader.