There was a time when most women went to college to get an MRS degree and I imagine there are still some who still do. Finishing schools were established to teach their students – most of whom were young women from wealthy families – proper social etiquette as well as training in cultural values and norms. Secretarial classes were plentiful, and attendees hoped for jobs that would connect them with eligible singles they would marry, move to the suburbs, and live like June Cleaver, highball ready. But this is certainly not the case for all women. Some of us were, are, looking for intellectual as well as financial independence. Some of us want to change the world. Some of us want to dominate the world. And, it takes money. Many. Enter student loans.
According to American News, the average cost of tuition for the 2021-2022 school year ranges from $11,631 to $43,775 depending on whether you attend a public or private college/university. Sometimes after four years you usually have to get a bachelor’s degree and you’re looking at $50,000 to $175,000 in tuition. If you are pursuing a masters or doctoral program, the tuition fees increase tremendously. If you’re a person of color you’ll probably owe thousands more than me for the same degree. And, once you graduate, your repayment interest rates will also be higher than those of the average white graduate.
I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t have thousands of dollars stashed in my mattress. And, even if I did, it’s unlikely to be used for education. So we take out student loans that we plan to pay off when we graduate and get the high-paying job that was central to our education. Sounds like a good plan, right? Yeah, not so much. For many women, the hopes for that future that come with higher education crumble with the ceiling of graduation.
In one study 2021 conducted by the American Association of University Women, it is shown that across the country there is approximately $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. Of this total, women owe much more than men, and women of color owe even more. Although the amount of money borrowed by women compared to men is not too huge, coupled with the pay gap that all women face in the workplace and barriers to well-paying jobs, this debt becomes a heavier burden to bear.
“Taken together, the student debt crisis and the gender gap are making it difficult for women to get through this, let alone move forward.”–AAUW
As most of us who have student loans know, payments were suspended during the pandemic, but that ends in April, giving us less than two months until we have to reinstate the repayment of the ready in our budgets. For those whose businesses have closed or whose jobs no longer exist for one reason or another, the impact on the bottom line will be overwhelming.
But it’s not all bad news. There is relief on the horizon. Earlier this month, White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain said that President Biden is considering continuing forbearance and possibly even issuing an executive order that will provide loan forgiveness to certain borrowers. And, according to another Forbes article a few days later, the Department of Education has identified 100,000 student borrowers who are now eligible for loan forgiveness following October changes to the Civil Service Loan Cancellation Program.
Of course, not all of us are going to qualify for utility-based loan forgiveness. Even so, we are not left without options. We can pressure President Biden to show executive strength and, in doing so, bring relief to countless families across the country.
You can send your own letter to President Biden by texting PRESIDENT to 50409 and let your thumbs do the talking. Alternatively, you can sign up for one of the following petitions written by other members of the Resistbot community.
Once you hit send, you can invite your friends and family to do the same by following the prompts.
Want to know more, join Resistbot live Sunday, March 20 at 1:00 p.m. EST as we take a deeper dive into the subject of student loan debt.
Thanks to Helen.