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According to The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap — a report by the American Association of University Women,  women of color have it especially tough when it comes to paying back their student loans.

On average, women who graduated college in 2008 paid back 33 percent of their student loans by 2012, according to AAUW’s analysis of Department of Education data. Men repaid 44 percent of their debt in that period. Black and Hispanic women fared the worst of any group four years out of college. Black women had reduced their debt by only 9 percent in 2012, and Hispanic women had erased a mere 3 percent of their total loan bill.

Part of that comes down to how much debt it took to get through college.

Black women started life after college in the worst financial situation of any group. They took out a lot of debt to attend school—an average of $26,535—and took home the smallest paychecks of any group. In 2009 they earned $34,102 on average, meaning that, upon graduation, student loans took up a whopping 78 percent of their income.

And it’s even more difficult to pay back loans when you’re earning less money. “Women in the class of 2008 earned nearly $7,000 less than men one year after they graduated college. That gap widened to $11,000 by 2012.”

Researcher Catherine Hill had this to say about the gap: “People don’t believe that gender is still an issue. A lot of people think this is something of the past, that women seem to be doing well in education.” She added: “If you look at debt as a percentage of salary, it becomes clear that they aren’t in good shape.”

Do you agree with the study’s findings?

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  • yoda

    I didn’t take out loans personally but I have worked for a company similar to Sallie Mae. I did speak to many black and Hispanic women who did have a lot of trouble paying back loans. I spoke to white women as well but they didn’t have as many problems as women of color in reference to paying back loans. Maybe this has something to do with majors chosen and whether or not the women actually completed their degree. I think the state of student loans in this country is terrible. You have to take out so much debt with not as much payoff unless you know you’re gonna have a guranteed job after graduation.

  • I wonder what other studies will say about this issue. If the study is true, then we have a serious problem regardless. The gender gap among genders involving job occupations is real. Also, we know that more and more black women are going into college and universities plus graduating from them (which is great). The student loan crisis is very real as the total student loan debt has reached over 1 trillion dollars in our time. The cost of higher education is much higher than the rise of median household income in the span of 30 years, so this reality grows income inequality too. While colleges are increasingly unaffordable for the poor and middle class, we see a decline in state funding and federal grants sent to help people. Usually federal grants mostly help undergraduates. Some are right that majors may play a role, discrimination definitely play a role (as Black and Latino families earn less household incomes and experience more discrimination than white families), and other factors go into the reasons why the student loans program is in such disarray. There are proposals for the expansion of caps or the elimination of loans for low income people and the expansion of grants. Some politicians want free higher education for all. The point is that we need change and we need solutions to address the student loan crisis in America.