So much of the great American dream remains unattainable to the younger generation for one basic reason: financial incapacity. Those who are brave enough to take the track are burdened by the hefty sum requirements and the most common resort in order to get through is to get into debt.
Over 44 million Americans owe a collective amount of $1.4 trillion in student debts. That’s a good $620 billion above the total US credit card debt. On average, a borrower gives out $351 every month for his or her student loan payments. Looking deeper into the data, it’s also evident that women holds almost two-thirds of the current outstanding student debts, despite only making up 57 percent of the total students enrolled in colleges and universities.
A factor for change
Per the American Association of University Women, women now owe a total of $833 billion in student loans, up from $223 billion in 2004. What could have contributed to this bulk in debt?
More women are found to enroll in more expensive colleges as well as in for-profit schools that, even though requiring larger loans, are more convenient for them, especially when they are working or are taking care of children while also studying.
Another aspect seen as a factor is the difference in wages between men and women. Because women generally earn less than their male counterparts, they have extra struggles in paying off student debts and are more likely to hold them longer, or they end up taking out one with a longer term so their monthly payments are more manageable.
Aside from that, student loans are not the only debts that burden women. About a quarter of the women attending college are parents and therefore have to attend to their family’s basic needs. These needs may drive them to borrow more money to offset cost, putting more strain on the already overwhelming task of financing their education.
A generational dilemma
By demographic, women still dominates men in terms of enrollee numbers among Asians, African-Americans, and Caucasians. The average student debt amount for women is $20,907 while there is a lesser average of $19,454 for men.
The student debt problem among millennials is widely attributed as a generational game changer, causing many young people to delay marriage, owning a house, and placing a strain on retirement preparedness.
So what steps are in place to aid the youth in helping them overcome the challenges of their generation? Will the issue of wage gap between male and female workers ever be addressed?
The problem is largely systemic and the responses are slow if not inadequate. Will there be relief to look forward to?