Women hold nearly two-thirds of the outstanding student debt in the U.S. — close to $929 billion.
- The price tag of a college education has more than doubled over the past generation, while household income has risen by only 14%.
- Women graduate owing almost $22,000 in student debt, compared $18,880 owed by men. Black women graduate with an average of $37,558 in student debt.
- Women with bachelor’s degrees who work full time make, on average, 26% less than their male peers, hampering women’s ability to quickly pay off debt.
- Women take about 2 years longer than men to repay student loans and are more likely to struggle economically as they do so. The situation is even more significant for women of color.
- 41% of female undergraduates take on student debt, compared to 35% of male undergraduates, and more women take on debt for graduate studies as well.
- More than 70% of Black students go into debt to pay for higher education, compared to 56% of white students.
- 1/3 of Black bachelor’s degree graduates borrow $40,000 or more, compared to 18% of all graduates. And, Black 4-year graduates default on loans 5 times more often than white graduates (21% compared to 4%).
- Rates of student debt from for-profit colleges is disproportionately high — and is more challenging to pay back. The higher debt and default rates are often attributed and related to the comparable high-costs of for-profit colleges and students not being able to afford to complete programs and/or not being as well-prepared or having as strong earning opportunities after graduation.
- Only around 23% of students at for-profit colleges graduate within 6 years, compared to 59% at public and 66% at private colleges and universities.
- Students of color are significantly more likely to attend for-profit colleges (25.2% among Latinx, 28% among Blacks, and 11.4% among whites).
- 30% of higher-ed students who are single mothers attend for-profit colleges (around 630,000 students), and have higher levels of debt than other students.
- Nearly 40% of for-profit college attendees are expected to default on loans by 2030. Defaults are nearly 4 times higher among for-profit student entrants than 2-year public college entrants.
- 67% of Black students who attended but did not complete a for-profit college defaulted on loans, compared to only 4% of white college graduates.
- The wealth gap also plays a role in student debt for women of color. Having less family wealth to rely on explains why Black women and Latinas need to borrow to finance their education.
Deeper in Debt: Women & Student Loans
Research & Data
Policy Recommendations: Reducing Student Debt