Lecturer discusses gender-based student debt inequality

November 1, 2017

Research published by the American Association of University Women found that since 1976 the cost of college tuition has risen by 135 percent, while the median household income has only risen by 12 percent.


The result is a rise in the amount of student loans, and therefore a rise in student debt.


Last Saturday, The Women of Toledo along with the Toledo chapter of AAUW hosted an informative event, Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans, in the Driscoll Alumni Center at 9:30 a.m.


AAUW is a non-profit organization advocating for equality for all women and girls.


According to Michelle Radtkin, the president of AAUW Toledo branch, the goal of the event was to bring awareness to the new information and to form a community action plan.


“There's more women in higher ed there ever before,” said AAUW Toledo branch secretary Anna Brogan-Knight, “We know that women used to be excluded from high education and one of the first research presentations by AAUW was debunk whether women were to be made infertile by higher education, so it’s been a long road.”


Women make up roughly 50 percent of all college populations according to Brogan-Knight, and not only has the rise in number of students relying on loans increased, but the research shows that the debt is often disproportionately distributed. 


“Student loans are becoming more and more common. $1.3 trillion in student loan debt and women account for two-thirds of that.” Brogan-Knight said.


Black women were shown to have the highest amount of student loan debt with 50 percent of black women who graduate from college currently in repayment, according to the research.


“Black women, by far, take out the most student loan debt. That goes along with the rest of research that we know. If women make a little less than men then black women and Latino women make even less.” Brogan-Knight said.


After the presentation of research by Brogan-Knight, two previous UT students shared their personal struggles with student loan debt.


According to a study published by LendEDU earlier this year, the University of Toledo ranked 121 out of 220 for the lowest student debt for four-year public institutions in the US. The study found the average student took out $24,437 in student loans for the 2016-17 school year, pointing to the national issue AAUW showcased through its findings.  


“Talking about research this is something I really, really enjoy because AAUW national is doing a phenomenal job coming up with all of this research.” Radtkin said.


Radtkin explained that the organization always includes an advocacy summary to provide solutions and take the research beyond just numbers.


“It’s interesting to have this conversation and look how we can apply this and take a look at how we can use economic development to empower women in Toledo,” she said.

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