Student debt has long been a problem on a national level, but these days, it's gotten utterly absurd. Americans collectively owe more than $1.5 trillion in student debt, with roughly 29% of the working population carrying loans from college. But if there's one group that's really getting caught in the student debt trap, it's none other than women.
Though women represent 56% of university students nationwide, they hold nearly two-thirds of all college debt, according to a new report by Guardian. But it's not just that women are more likely than men to borrow money for college -- they also tend to take out larger loans, and take longer to pay them back. This, in turn, can impede a host of life goals, from buying homes to starting families. And it's a cycle that's showing no signs of coming to a stop.
If you're struggling with student debt, there are steps you can take to ease the burden. And the sooner you do, the sooner your financial outlook stands to improve.
Digging out of student debt
A big reason it takes women longer to pay off educational debt than men boils down to lower wages. Part of the solution, therefore, should involve making sure you're being paid what you're worth. Do some research to see what the going rate is for your job, and fight for a raise if your current salary doesn't reflect your skill or experience level.
At the same time, you might need to rethink some of your personal money habits if you want a shot at eliminating your student debt sooner rather than later. For one thing, create a budget if you don't have one already. It'll show you where you're potentially overspending, and where there might be room to cut back on different expenses to free up more money to pay off your loans.
Similarly, you might look at getting yourself a side hustle, even if temporarily, to boost your earnings. The great thing about getting a second job is that the money you bring home from it won't already be earmarked for other expenses, which means you should have no trouble applying all of it to your existing debt.
If you borrowed privately for college (as opposed to taking out federal loans only), refinancing might also help you dig out of debt sooner. Private lenders charge notoriously high interest rates because they aren't regulated the way federal loans are. If your credit is good, but you're racking up a fortune in student loan interest, swapping your existing loans for a new one at a more favorable rate could make your payments far more manageable. And this way, the extra money you free up in your budget or earn can be used to chip away at your loans' principal, as opposed to going toward more interest.
Student debt has become a universal problem in America that doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. If you're tired of those nagging payments monopolizing far too much of your income than you'd like to admit, take steps to knock out those loans sooner. Whether you're male or female, eliminating your student debt as quickly as possible is a good way to reduce stress while setting yourself on a healthier financial path.