Image of a women supporting Equal Pay Day in Germany. 

As Equal Pay Day makes national headlines, experts are reminding people that the 20 percent gender pay gap doesn’t only mean that women are receiving lower pay. It also means that the burden of student loan debt is greater for women.

In fact, although women are using a larger portion of their paychecks to pay off their student loans—more than they could “reasonably afford”—they aren’t making as much of a dent in their outstanding balances as men. According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), data shows that college-educated makes who graduated in 2008 were able to pay off more than 40 percent of their student debt between 2009 and 2012, while women were barely able to cover 30 percent of their overall debt in the same timeframe.

According to some, this is one reason why eliminating the gender pay gap is so important. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees. In a state like Wisconsin, where the office of governor and the Republican-controlled legislature recently rescinded an equal pay law, women will have a harder time making enough money to pay all of their bills, leading to more issues with covering their student debt.

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And there’s more bad news for the state: Wisconsin is in the top five in the US when it comes to percentage of college graduates with student loan debt with the average borrower leaving school with about $20,000 in debt according to The Student Loan Report. But lawmakers haven’t done much to help in that area either. GOP cuts to the University of Wisconsin and technical colleges are close to $1 billion. There have also been whopping tuition hikes and underfunded financial aid benefits. And any legislation that could possibly help borrowers with their debt has been blocked.

All of this leads many to wonder how residents are supposed to fulfill their financial and personal goals—such as starting a business or buying a house—if their elected officials won’t do anything to help lower education costs or at the very least help borrowers manage their student loan debt.

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