Women have long eclipsed men in terms of college enrollment, and they’re doing the same when it comes to student debt — except on a much larger scale, as they carry more student debt than men and take longer to pay it off.
While women accounted for 57 percent of enrollees in the fall of 2016, according to the most recent data from the Department of Education, they held close to two-thirds of the $1.34 trillion in outstanding student debt in the U.S., according to a report released Wednesday by the non-profit American Association of University Women. (That estimate comes from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and is slightly lower than the oft-cited $1.44 trillion statistic from the St. Louis Fed.)
The amount men still owed in bachelor’s degree tuition upon graduation trailed that of female grads by between about $1,000 and just over $2,000 between 2004 and 2012, as debt levels upon graduation grew steadily for both genders over that time span, the report found. By 2012, for example, women graduated with, on average, $20,907 in unpaid student loans, compared to men’s $19,454.
The pattern generally persisted when the AAUW detailed the gender split of average annual loans by degree earned, with female academic doctorate candidates taking on $1,949 more in student loans than men; female master’s degree seekers taking on $1,534 more; female bachelor’s students taking on $608 more and women pursuing associate or certificate degrees taking on $431 more than their male counterparts. The trend came to a halt with professional doctorate degrees, for which men took on $4,126 more in loans.
The disparity also worsened over time. Three years after their commencement ceremonies, female graduates from the class of 2009 paid off 7 percent less debt than male graduates of the same year, the report found. The annual student debt payoff rate for women was…