(AP) — Before the pandemic, wage disparities already made it tougher for working women to pay off student loans than men.
Now, after a second year of juggling increased caregiving duties, over a million women have had to drop out of the workforce as a new/old problem looms: the restart of federal student loan payments.
“Not to paint over individual experiences that could have been good or bad (during the pandemic), but there’s more concern for women that do have college debt and earn less money,” says Kathryn Anne Edwards, an economist at the Rand Corp., a nonprofit global policy think tank.
When the federal student loan payment pause ends after Jan. 31, 2022, repayment will be especially difficult for certain groups of women who saw their earnings plummet, experts say.
Although women surpass men in degree attainment, women also have more student debt. A 2021 analysis of federal data by the American Association of University Women showed women carry an average student loan burden of $31,276, about 7% more than men.
Once women enter the workplace, they’re less able to pay off that debt due to earnings disparities as a result of gender and — for Black and Hispanic women — racial wage gaps, multiple experts say.
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