Are Student Loans Harder on Women?

Michael Lux Best Of, Blog, News, Student Loans 6 Comments

Put simply, Yes.  Women suffer the negative consequences of student loans in greater numbers than men.  An analysis of college statistics, salary data, and sociological research shows that women deal with a greater student loan burden then men do.  Three primary factors lead to this outcome.

Women Still Make Less Then Men

Of late this has been a hot button political topic, but research suggests that women still make a fraction of the salary that men do in the same position.  This fact holds true even if you account for educational differences, experience levels, etc.

Thirty years ago women made 77 cents for every dollar a man made.  Today that number has climbed to 93 cents.

Despite the gains over the past three decades, the existing gap still represents a big hurdle in keeping up on student loans.

More Women Go To College

At every level of higher education, there are more women than men.  For example, over 3 out of 5 graduates from Master’s Degree programs are women.  That means over 60% of the people struggling with student debt from undergrad and a masters program are women.

The only way to get into student debt is to go to college.  With far more women in college than men, it means far more women are getting buried in student loans.

The Pay Gap Grows Over the Years

Not only do many women start out at a lower salary than their male counterparts, but as time progresses, the gap only widens.  Research shows that women are much more hesitant than men to try and negotiate higher salaries.  It turns out this hesitation is for good reason.  Not only do the numbers suggest that fewer women attempt to negotiate a higher salary, research shows that women are far more likely to experience negative consequences than men for such requests.

The gender pay gap in the legal field demonstrates how this can plan out.  Even though female students out number male law students, male lawyers still are paid more than female lawyers.  At the partnership level (the big earners at the large lawfirms), more men are promoted to partner than women, and the male partners make more than the female partners.  Thus, even in a field where men and women start on an arguably equal footing, as their careers progress, men advance in greater numbers and have greater salaries.

Are Student Loans a Women’s Issue?

It depends upon how you look at the issue.  Even if student loans disproportionately affect women, there is still a huge number of men struggling with student debt.

However, because women go to college in greater numbers, start at lower salaries, and have a more difficult time getting raises, there is no doubt about the gender more burdened by student loans.


  • I appreciate you highlighting this fact! You have my respect.

  • Great blog, male and women nowadays are already treated fair unlike before that the male really rules and the woman had only a limited chances. My cousin is a very good electrical engineer, when she decided to take that course her parents argued with her, but still she insisted and she proved that she really want that job.

  • I think just because more women attend college doesn’t necessarily mean that student loans are harder for them… I do agree that the pay gap influences women’s ability to pay back student loans, but remember that not every woman who goes to college takes loans, so if your argument is based on that, it’s not quite spot on.

    • Fair point Stu. My point is this… if more women are going to college, then more women are getting student loans. This point is not to say that the loans are harder on women than they are on men on an individual basis, rather more women would have loans, so more women would be affected.

  • Brittany Chapman

    I am one of these women! UGH! It took 17 years to finally feel like I know what I’m doing and that I will have them paid off soon. It was hard enough just to afford the monthly payment (I never thought about actually paying them off). Fortunately, someone helped me not to long ago and he has no idea what that means to me. Unfortunately, it took so long to get the help. I would recommend him to anyone with Federal Loans. His name is Bryan and his number is 855 378 7128 ext 122. Please let him know that I referred you. It’s my way of saying thank you to him!

  • Robert Collins

    Everybody cares about poor women but not men. I know 3 women that have worked hard to earn their Medical Doctor and after they completed their residency training they worked about 3-5 years and then quit. They all had their student loans forgiven and they now work jobs that don’t pay much. My point is that they are doing this by choice leaving a higher paying career that they were training for to teaching yoga. It is rare to see a man walk away from a career where they have had extensive training unless they really screwed up, a man will try to make it work out of duty. These women took spots that a man could have taken and would still be a practicing doctor. I know many women who have had their student loans forgiven and there is a double standard when men seek the same. Just like owning back child support, even when you don’t have a job or income the government forces you to pay it back and it is compounding daily at 10% and if you don’t and owe over $5000 they can and will charge with a felony and you will do 3-5 years, but a women owing the same or more will not get charged at all. Just because men are not choosing to go to school like they used to means to that they are aware of how unfair the system is towards men. Why get a college education when you are going to get paid the same as a high graduate? I don’t see the number of women choosing to take their lives because they can’t pay a student loan debt, but the number for men is increasing. Your article is catering to feminazi idealogy and to score browny points by kisses their asses. These women just want is free entitlements and none of the responsibilities and accountability that men are held to. Women have more free programs that cater to them to encourage them and push them to get ahead where for men it is sink or swim mentality is applied to almost everything a man does in life unless he comes from a good family that supports him. Where is the fairness in this where we care more about women then men and don’t hold women to the same obligations as men?