Women benefit more from education loans than men
The research findings showed that, on average, taking out loans actually makes graduation more likely for all students. But at a certain point - which is about USD 2,000 lower for men than for women - debt has diminishing returns and becomes less effective at boosting chances of graduation.
One reason loans help women more may be tied to job prospects for college dropouts - which are much better for men than for women, researchers said.
"At least early in their careers, women suffer more than men if they don't have a college degree," said Rachel Dwyer, co-author of the study and associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University.
"Women will go deeper in debt to finance college because they need the degree more than men if they want to earn a good living. Men will drop out at lower levels of debt," Dwyer said in a statement.
Dwyer conducted the study with Randy Hodson, professor of sociology at Ohio State University, and Laura McCloud, assistant professor of sociology at Pacific Lutheran University. Their study was published in the journal Gender and Society.
Data for the study came from 3,676 young Americans who participated in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. The NLSY97 interviewed people between the ages of 13 and 17 in 1997 and then talked to the same people each year up to 2010-2011. At that time, the young adults in this study were 25 to 31 years old.
For this study, the researchers examined student loans taken out each year the participants were enrolled in college, and how much they still owed overall on their loans.
Women were more likely to take out loans than men, with 40 percent of women and 34 percent of men taking out loans on average each year.
"Clearly, educational debt was part of the college experience for many students in the 2000s," Dwyer said.