Student Debt for Women

The AAUW recently released a report titled, “Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans.” The report points to a side effect of women’s increased educational attainment in recent decades: College-educated women hold a disproportionate share of outstanding student loan debt. While the AAUW’s report focuses on women, it points out that most historically under-served college populations have seen their share of the debt pie rise at a higher rate than their share of diplomas.

While women receive 57% of bachelor’s degrees from American colleges and universities, they hold about 2/3 of outstanding student debt. The report cites several reasons for this:

  • Women take out larger loans on average than do men; the average accrued student debt upon attainment of a bachelor’s degree is $1,500 higher for women than for men.
  • Women with college degrees earn an average of 26% less than do college-educated men, leaving them with less income available to repay loans.
  • For-profit institutions– which tend to leave their graduates with the worst debt outcomes– enroll women and minorities at higher rates.

Anyone borrowing for college needs to keep their likely career and salary trajectory in mind when deciding how much to borrow. The report also includes some institutional and policy recommendations for helping maintain access to higher education without creating undue burdens on students and graduates. The full report is available here.

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