Student Loan Debt by Gender

Report Highlights:

  • Women hold 58% of all student loan debt.
  • It takes women an average of 2 years longer to pay off their student loans despite make higher payments.
  • Male students are more likely than female students to get financial help from their parents and family.
  • Student borrowers who identify as LGBTQ have an average of $16,000 more in student loan debt than those who do not.

Almost 45 million American adults carry a cumulative student loan debt of $1.6 trillion. The debt is shared unequally across demographics. Law school debt and medical school debt may contribute to a high amount of student loan debt, but these are not the only factors that affect student loan debt rates. People in different states and of different races and age groups take on a range of student loan debt. Charting disparities across sex and gender lines is challenging. This is especially true when dealing with data that uses out-of-date terminology.

Student Loan Debt by Gender

This report conforms to the terminology used in raw data. “Male” and “female” may refer to sex or gender identities while “cis-male” and “cis-female” describe male-born males and female-born females, respectively. Most official data collection programs use “sex” and “gender” interchangeably. Furthermore, they are typically limited to two gender variables: male (or men) and female (or women).

  • 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.
  • Students who select more than one gender have the lowest monthly payments due.
  • Among students who select 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.
  • Genderqueer or gender nonconforming students were the most like to have student loan debt totaling less than $25,000.
  • 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, not enough male-to-female nor female-to-male students responded to create meaningful data sets.
  • The same is true for students who selected “a different gender identity” and those who declined to specify.
  • LGBTQ student borrowers owe an average of $16,000 more in student loan debt than their peers.
  • 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.
  • Gender variant student borrowers are more likely than men or women to make lower student loan payments.
There is little hard data yet available that includes transgender or like categories; anecdotal evidence indicates gender nonconforming 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.

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%.

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