News & Politics

U.S. Student Loan Debt Hits Staggering $1.5 Trillion

The amount of outstanding student loan debt just hit a staggering number: $1.5 trillion. An important statistic associated with this number? Women hold nearly two-thirds of all U.S. student debt, according to a report recently published by the American Association of University Women.

CNN Money notes that one reason women hold more debt than men is because more women go to college than their male counterparts. In fact, 56 percent of students who enrolled in higher education in fall of 2016 were women. But that’s not all. “More women take out loans, and when they do, they borrow more money. The average woman owes $2,740 more than a man upon finishing a bachelor’s degree… Women are also repaying their debt more slowly, which can mean they’re paying more in interest over time.”

Student loan debt seems to be a bigger source of strain on Americans than other common forms of debt, such as auto loan debt (which is currently at $1.1 trillion) and credit card debt (which currently stands at $977 billion). According to CNN, of the 42 percent of people who took out debt upon going to college, 30 percent of them took out forms of debt beyond just student loans, “like credit card debt or a home equity line of credit,” according to a Federal Reserve report based on a 2017 survey.

Perhaps the most unsettling information recently released on student loan debt reveals that 20 percent of those who borrow are behind on their payments. Apparently, people who have not finished their degree have a more difficult time keeping up with payments, but a small percentage of bachelor’s degree holders (11 percent) and graduate degree holders (5 percent) are behind as well.