On May 24, AAUW released its newest research report, Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans, revealing that women hold almost two-thirds ($833 billion) of the country’s $1.3-trillion student debt. The research shows that those with the scarcest resources bear the brunt of student debt in the U.S.
“Because of factors like the gender pay gap, debt that could be manageable ends up becoming unmanageable, particularly for women,” according to Kevin Miller, Ph.D., the senior researcher for AAUW. More than half of graduating U.S. college students have financed some or all of their education with student loans. Women now earn 57% of bachelor’s degrees in the U.S., and AAUW estimates that they take an average of two years longer to pay off their student debt than men do. Black women take on more student debt than do members of any other group and struggle the most to pay it off.
Says Anne Hedgepath, senior government relations manager at AAUW, “The status quo is untenable for women with student debt. Imagine if there are cuts to Pell or to other financial aid programs. Women’s $833-billion problem could become even worse.”
Research such as this underlines the importance of the financial aid that AAUW and branches like ours give to women seeking higher education. In light of it, our purses have even more purpose!