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Gender gap in college savings? Studies say it exists


It’s hard to believe this is still the case in 2019, but studies confirm that parents are saving more for their sons than for their daughters for higher education.

A Wall Street Journal article examined the results of two financial-industry polls conducted in 2017.

According to the article, one study by T. Rowe Price looked at 238 households with all boys and 155 homes with all girls. Half of the boy-only households had money saved for their children’s college compared with only 39% of parents of girl-only households. Boy-only households also reported contributing to their children’s college savings more frequently, with 83% contributing at least monthly compared with 70% of girl-only households.

The article cited a second study a study conducted by LendEDU, a student-loan marketplace. Of more than 1,400 college graduates surveyed, 6% of the women said their parents paid for a majority of college, and 50% said their parents paid nothing at all. By contrast, 10% of men said their parents paid for most of college, and 43% of men said their parents paid nothing.

Young college graduates with student loans are more likely than those without loans to have a second job and to report struggling financially. — Pew Research

Experts could only speculate on the reason for the savings mismatch. Perhaps it’s because parents expect their sons to earn more after college, leading to a better return on their savings investment. Or maybe it’s because they’re more confident in their daughters than their sons to receive scholarships. (In reality, the difference between what girls and boys receive in merit-based aid is minimal, the article states.)

What makes the savings gap even more confounding is the postsecondary success that women are achieving. Research from Brookings shows that, for the past twenty years, women have outpaced men in college attendance and degree attainment. And it’s projected that by 2026, 57 percent of college students will be women — an almost exact reversal of the gender ratio that existed in the 1970s.

So what lessons can Florida parents extrapolate from all of this research? Parents in girl-only households may want to consider saving earlier and regularly, for starters. And all parents can take a hard look at what they’re saving for their children, no matter their gender.

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