By Anna Orso
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A recent analysis from the nonprofit American Association of University Women found that although women make up a little more than half of students enrolled in college, they hold nearly two-thirds of the outstanding student debt.
Two months and a $14,110 bill stand between Rhapsody Taylor and her dreams.
A rising junior at the University of the Arts, Taylor is a straight-A student stuck in an impossible situation: She can’t afford tuition costs to return to school in the fall, and her mother’s own $80,000 in student debt left her without a loan cosigner.
What remains is a tab, UArts’ $44,000 annual tuition minus grants and scholarships, that the 20-year-old from Pennsauken has no idea how she’ll pay by August.
Her mother, Shawnta, 46, said she wishes she could cosign a loan, but can’t due to debt, largely accrued from her own graduate studies in 2015 at a for-profit online university.
“I feel like somewhere,” she said, “I failed.”
The image of a student plagued by debt is often of a middle-class millennial who owes $100,000 from attending a four-year college.
Those students are no doubt struggling, whether it’s having trouble affording a down payment on a house or delaying marriage until they’re in a better financial situation.
But the data show those who are most buried in student debt are people like Rhapsody and Shawnta.
A disproportionate number are black. They are often older than 40. Almost two-thirds of the student debt in the country is held by women. Many attended for-profit colleges. Some didn’t graduate, leaving them in debt for a certificate they never received.
They’re people like Elvis Vest, a 36-year-old Philadelphian whose wages are being garnisheed to cover the $13,000 he owes after attending the University of Phoenix but not graduating.