A recent report by the American Association of University Women found that women carry the healthy majority of student loan debt. 

A large percentage of people take out student loans to pay for college, and it’s been seen that women are attending college in greater numbers, thus acquiring plenty of debt in the process. A recent study has supported this to a surprising extent.

In fact, women carry about $890 billion in student loan debt, nearly two-thirds of the near-1.5 trillion dollar student loan debt total in the United States, according to a report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), an advocacy group for education and equity for girls and women.

Why Do Women Owe More?

Why is it such a high number? This is partially due to women representing 56 percent of enrolled students in fall 2016 according to CNN Money, meaning a large number of women may be taking out loans for college. With that in mind, the report disclosed that women owe an average of $2,740 more than men after a bachelor’s program.

Furthermore, women are also repaying loans more slowly and ultimately paying more interest over time. AAUW estimated that full-time working women with college degrees earn 26 percent less than their male colleagues.

The pay gap presumably makes it harder to repay student loan debt sooner, resulting in greater interest paid over time according to AAUW. On that note, the report noted that men, on average, paid approximately 38 percent of their student debt in the first four years after college graduation; women paid 31 percent.

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More Details from the Report

The report also disclosed that black women in particular have taken on more student debt, with an individual average of $30,400. This compares to white women’s $22,000 and white men’s $19,500.

Contributing to this demographic challenge is another wage gap. Black college graduates (men and women) between ages 21 and 24 earn $3.34 less hourly than their white colleagues. This is approximately a $7,000 annual difference, according to a recent Economic Policy Institute analysis.

What can women do? One option is to look at companies offering workers student loan help. A February 2017 American Student Assistance survey found that 86 percent of respondents said they would commit to working for their current employer if the company helped pay off their student loans. However, from the respondents, 16 percent noted their employers didn’t offer this assistance. Fortunately, more companies are joining in the trend to offer employer student loan benefits to employees.