Student Loans are a Feminist Issue

by Gwen Berumen

Next week, the Senate will consider a bill from Sen. Elizabeth Warren concerning student loan payments. The bill will allow Americans with outstanding federal and private loans to refinance them at the same rates students receive when taking out new federal loans.  

This in and of itself is a step in the right direction for all students without outstanding loans. However, Sen. Warren, Sen. Sherrod Brown, and many other Democratic Senators are framing this as a feminist issue.

As a firm believer in the fact that everything is a feminist issue – since women are involved in everything – I see this as fantastic news. 

The fact of the matter is student loans disproportionately affect marginalized groups. Whether it be people of color or women, it is much harder for people that don’t earn as much after graduation to pay back these loans at the same rates as those who earn more.  

Since wage gaps are a thing, this means that a greater percentage of a woman’s income is going towards paying off student loans. Add this to tuition hikes, the fact that more women than men go to college, and the fact that once women reach a certain age – children start becoming an impending question in the minds of employers (the wage gap for mothers v. non-mothers is also a big one).

Women have a generally higher burden to deal with in the finance department; and framing this student loan issue as an intrinsically feminist one will have different results than assuming that everyone shares the same burden.

Like most things, this issue affects women in a very particular way. While Senators Warren and Brown (and I) understand that women are not the only ones affected, it is imperative to look at student loan debt through both focused and intersectional lenses in order to assist women and all marginalized individuals with outstanding debt in the most reasonable and helpful way for them.


Read more on how student loan debt affects women. 

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