Student loan debt has eclipsed $1.6 trillion in the United States, and women are shouldering the majority of the weight. While women make up 56% of American university students, they hold almost two-thirds of all student loan debt.
Women are struggling in all aspects of student loan borrowing. They are more likely to borrow for college, take out larger loans, and take longer to pay them back. Student loan debt is forcing many to delay major life and financial milestones like buying a home or starting a family. Debt also causes stress and has serious negative effects on mental health.
Paying back student loans
Women struggle to pay off their loans after graduating in part because of the wage gap in America. Women on average make less money for the same job as men. While the burden should not be on women to fix this issue, one solution is to do research on expected salary based on education and experience level and to use this to fight for a fair wage.
For borrowers of any gender, it is important to be smart about personal finances. Creating a budget is a simple but effective way to get a complete picture of where money is going. Getting a second job -- or a “side hustle” -- brings in a source of income that can be directed entirely towards student loan repayment.
Graduates with debt can also look for employers that offer student loan repayment benefits. Currently, only 4% of employers are offering this benefit, but this number jumps to 8% when looking at just large corporations. For employees at companies that do not offer loan repayments, they should consider asking their employer about them.