Student Loan Debt by Gender

Report Highlights. Women and gender-variant 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.

  • 66% of all student loan debt belongs to women. 
  • The average student debt for women in the U.S. is $31,726.
  • Women can expect an average annual salary of $35,338 following college graduation, which is 81% of what men can expect to earn following graduation. 
  • With an average monthly debt repayment of $307 per month, it is difficult for women to pay off student loan debt on top of their living expenses following college graduation. 
  • Student borrowers who identify as LGBTQ+ have an average of $6,000 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

  • Parents of white male students are more likely to take out loans on their behalf or pay out of pocket, to contribute to their education. 
  • Among associate’s degree holders, 28.6% of males and 42.6% of females received student loans.
  • 52.2% of Bachelor’s degree-holding males received federal loans while 12.3% received Parent PLUS loans.
  • 61.4% of female Bachelor’s degree holders obtained federal loans, and 12.9% received Parent PLUS loans.
  • Male student borrowers are the least likely to have high amounts of debt.
  • Black women have the highest level of student debt following college graduation at $29,051, compared to other women in white, Hispanic, and Asian populations.  
  • Black male borrowers have the most undergraduate student debt at $25,336 compared to other men in white, Hispanic, and Asian populations. 
  • Women owe more in graduate student loan debt than men, except for professional doctorate degrees. 
  • 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

  • 12 years after college graduation, white men have paid off up to 44% of their student loan debt, while white women have only paid off up to 28%.
  • Black women on the other hand see their loan debt increase due to additional incurred costs, up to 13% over 12 years, compared to black men who see 11% more debt on average. 
  • At 24% each, men and women are equally as likely to pay more than $350 per month.
  • Women borrow roughly 10% more federal student loans than men and pay them back at a lower amount per month than men as well.
  • Women also borrow 4% more private student loans than men and pay them back slower than men over time.

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 66% of all student loan debt.
  • 41% of women undergraduates take out student loans, compared to 35% of male undergraduates. 
  • 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 have almost twice the amount of student debt compared to white women.
  • 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.
  • 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 $57,000.
  • LGBTQ+ student borrowers owe an average of $6,000 more in student loan debt than their peers.
  • Gender minority bachelor’s degree holders* borrow 7% 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.

  • Following their bachelor’s degree, 91% of males, and 85% of females were working in full-time jobs. 
  • 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 retirement accounts.
  • 86.1% of females and 73.5% of gender minority bachelor’s degree holders have retirement accounts.
  • 21% of females report a negative net worth, compared to 18% of males.
  • 29% of gender minority degree holders reported a negative net worth, and 18% of gender minority bachelor’s degree holders could not meet essential expenses over the past 12 months.


  1. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Digest of Education Statistics
  2. Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator 
  3. American Association of University Women, Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans 
  4. Market Watch: Debt Repayment Between Gender and Race 
  5. NCES, Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B:08/18): First Look at the 2018 Employment and Educational Experiences of 2007–08 College Graduates 
  6. Deeper in Debt NSA Report 
  7. Deeper in Debt 2021 Update 
  8. Fast Facts: Women and Student Debt