Student Loan Debt by Gender

Report Highlights. Women and gendervariant borrowers are the most likely to carry large amounts of debt; male students are most likely to get financial help from their parents and family.

  • 58% of all student loan debt belongs to women.
  • After 12 years in repayment, Black women owe an average of 13% more than they borrowed.
  • It takes women an average of 2 years longer to pay off their student loans despite make higher payments.
  • Student borrowers who identify as LGBTQ+ have an average of $16,000 more in student loan debt than those who do not.
  • Average student loan debt 12 months after graduation by gender on Education Data Initiative

    Related reports include Student Loan Debt Statistics | by State | by Race | by Age | Average Law School Debt | Average Medical School Debt | Student Loan Refinancing

    This report conforms to the terminology used in raw data, which can vary significantly from source to source. Male (or man) and female (or woman) may refer to sex or gender identities while cis-male and cis-female describe male-born males and female-born females respectively. Many official data collection programs use the terms “sex” and “gender” interchangeably.

    Student Loan Debt by Sex or Gender

    Between men and women, women are more likely to take on more debt and to stay in debt longer.

    • Parents of male students are more likely to take out loans on their behalf.
    • Among associate’s degree holders, 58% of males and 70% of females received student loans.
    • 55.9% of males received federal loans while 21.5% received nonfederal loans.
    • 67.2% of female students obtained federal loans, and 24.2% received nonfederal loans.
    • Male student borrowers are the least likely to have high amounts of debt.
    • Female borrowers are more likely than their male peers to have student loan debt from graduate school.
    • Male borrowers, on the other hand, have a higher average amount of student loan debt from graduate school.
    • While some students identified as transgender, there are, as yet, not enough male-to-female nor female-to-male student respondents to create meaningful data sets.

    Student Loan Payments by Sex

    One reason a borrower’s loan debt may grow over time is they are not making monthly payments large enough to cover accumulated interest.

    • Women are more likely than men to make high monthly student loan payments despite having an income that is 26% lower.
    • 54% of females have student loan payments in the 75th percentile (meaning their monthly payments are higher than 75% of all monthly payments) compared to 51% of males.
    • 15% of men’s payments and 13% of women’s payments are in the 25th percentile.
    • 25% of males have student loan payments that are less than $100 per month.
    • 28% of females have loan payments less than $100.
    • At 24% each, men and women are equally as likely to pay more than $350 per month.

    Average student loan debt among women by race on Education Data Initiative

    Student Loan Debt Among Females

    Women owe a disproportionately high amount of the total student loan debt. Women are also more likely to have high amounts of debt. Some of this is likely due to the fact that female bachelor’s degree holders are paid 74% of what their male peers make.

    • Female students are more likely to obtain student loans for themselves.
    • $929 billion in student loan debt belongs to women.
    • Women hold 58% of all student loan debt.
    • Female student borrowers have an average debt is 9.6% higher than their male peers one year after graduation.
    • Women take an additional two years on average to pay off student loans.
    • Black women have the highest average amount of debt.
    • Asian women have the lowest average amount of student loan debt.
    • Women of color who borrow money to pay for college are 12% more likely to have student loan debt than majority women.
    • Women of color are 20% more likely to have student loan debt than majority men.
    • The average Black woman’s student loan debt grows 13% in their first 12 years of repayment.
    • In the same period, the average White woman’s student loan debt shrinks by 28%.
    • White men, in comparison, see their student loan debts drop by 44%.

    Student Loan Debt Beyond Binary

    A low relative population makes it difficult to derive meaningful statistics regarding transgender, non-binary, and students with other gender identities; 1.0% of bachelor’s degree holders of the 2007-2008 cohort identify as a gender minority.

    What little hard data is available indicates that gender variant student borrowers face policy-related obstacles that cis-male and cis-female students do not face. This includes difficulties with identity verification in cases of official sex or name changes.

    • Gender variant student borrowers are more likely than men or women to make lower student loan payments.
    • Students who identify as more than one gender have the lowest monthly loan payments due.
    • Among students who identify as more than one gender, 38% have loan payments under $100 per month.
    • They are also less likely than their peers to pay more than $350 per month.
    • In surveys, indebted student borrowers who selected multiple genders had the highest outstanding debt rates.
    • Gender nonconforming students were the most likely to have student loan debt totaling less than $25,000.
    • LGBTQ+ student borrowers owe an average of $16,000 more in student loan debt than their peers.
    • Gender minority bachelor’s degree holders* borrow 14.5% more in student loans than cis-males on average.
    • The average gender minority student borrows 10.2% more than the average non-gender minority student.

    Student Loan Debt Impact by Sex & Gender

    Source data for this section uses the terms “male” and “female” to refer to respondents who identify as their biological sex (at birth). “Gender minority” refers to all other gender identities.

    • 10 years after graduation, 61.6% of male bachelor’s degree holders own a home.
    • 63.5% of female bachelor’s degree holders own a home.
    • 31.2% of gender minority degree holders own a home.
    • 87.0% of male degree holders have retirements accounts.
    • 86.1% of females and 73.5% of gender minority bachelor’s degree holders have retirement accounts.
    • Females are 20% more likely than males to report a negative net worth.
    • Gender minority degree holders are 64.1% more likely than males to report a negative net worth.
    • Source

  1. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Digest of Education Statistics
  2. Saving for College, Historical Federal Student Loan Interest Rates and Fees
  3. Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator
  4. Experian, Main Street Report: Q2 2019
  5. PEW Research Center, 5 Facts About Student Loans
  6. New America, Education Policy: Student Loan History
  7. U.S. Department of Education (ED) Office of Federal Student Aid (OFSA), Federal Student Loan Portfolio
  8. NCES, Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study
  9. American Association of University Women, Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans
  10. Point Foundation, The National LGBTQ Scholarship Fund
  11. State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, EOM Debt Profile: Student Loans by Gender and Race 5 Years
  12. 12 years after starting college, white men have paid off 44% of their student loans, while black women owe 13% more
  13. NCES, Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B:08/18): First Look at the 2018 Employment and Educational Experiences of 2007–08 College Graduates