Student Debt Showdown: AAUW’s 2018 March Madness Bracket

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By: Olivia Guerrieri | March 15, 2018

March Madness, the annual NCAA Division I basketball tournament, kicks off this week, and while we’re excited to see who comes out on top in the games, we also want to see how these schools stack up for women students! This year AAUW is using the tournament to highlight a common struggle facing many college women: student debt.

We calculated the median student debt held by women when leaving each competing school. In each matchup, the school whose women students left with more debt is knocked out of the tournament, while schools where women held less debt advance. The outcomes reflect a number of factors, including school commitments to financial aid and student demographics. Our Final Four schools are a diverse mix of institution types — public and private, religious and secular. While student debt is influenced by many things, institutions across sectors can work to reduce the debt burden their students must take on.

College helps women get ahead and improves their economic security, but it comes at a significant cost. AAUW’s 2017 report Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans highlighted how student debt uniquely impacts women. Our analysis found that women are more likely to take on debt and on average take on more debt than men across degree levels and institution types. And because of the gender pay gap women have less disposable income with which to repay their loans after graduation, requiring more time to pay back their student debt than men need. As a result, women hold nearly two-thirds of the outstanding student debt in the United States — more than $800 billion. Black women take on more student debt on average than do members of any other group.

Check out our brackets below and join us in rooting for the schools that do better by women students!

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