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Soon-to-be graduates headed to their commencement ceremony at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, May 12, 2017. Reuters

Women have long eclipsed men in terms of college enrollment, and they’re doing the same when it comes to student debt — except on a much larger scale, as they carry more student debt than men and take longer to pay it off.

While women accounted for 57 percent of enrollees in the fall of 2016, according to the most recent data from the Department of Education, they held close to two-thirds of the $1.34 trillion in outstanding student debt in the U.S., according to a report released Wednesday by the non-profit American Association of University Women. (That estimate comes from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and is slightly lower than the oft-cited $1.44 trillion statistic from the St. Louis Fed.)

Read: Can Students Pay Off Their Loans? Delinquency On College Debt Soars Above That Of Credit Cards, Mortgages​

The amount men still owed in bachelor’s degree tuition upon graduation trailed that of female grads by between about $1,000 and just over $2,000 between 2004 and 2012, as debt levels upon graduation grew steadily for both genders over that time span, the report found. By 2012, for example, women graduated with, on average, $20,907 in unpaid student loans, compared to men’s $19,454.

The pattern generally persisted when the AAUW detailed the gender split of average annual loans by degree earned, with female academic doctorate candidates taking on $1,949 more in student loans than men; female master’s degree seekers taking on $1,534 more; female bachelor’s students taking on $608 more and women pursuing associate or certificate degrees taking on $431 more than their male counterparts. The trend came to a halt with professional doctorate degrees, for which men took on $4,126 more in loans.

The disparity also worsened over time. Three years after their commencement ceremonies, female graduates from the class of 2009 paid off 7 percent less debt than male graduates of the same year, the report found. The annual student debt payoff rate for women was 10 percent, compared to men’s 13 percent.

That may have something to do with the wage gap, which, although varying by profession, still exists even when factors like company, job title and industry are controlled for. In fact, the AAUW study controlled for education, focusing on bachelor’s graduates, and found that the four-year degree yielded a 75 percent pay increase, or “premium,” for men, compared to a 66 percent boost for women.

Read: Who Pays For Millennials’ College Degrees? Not Their Parents, Especially If They’re Women​

Urban Institute Senior Fellow and Skidmore College economics professor Sandy Baum, who specializes in student debt and inequality, said the issue could be a sign of something positive.

“Women are not only more likely to enroll, but they’re also more likely to graduate,” she said. “It’s possible that they simply borrow more because they’re in school longer.”

Still, the gaps in outstanding debt and grads’ abilities to pay it off could point to something less uplifting for women, she added. Women — especially women of color — make up a disproportionate number of students at for-profit colleges, which, according to Department of Education data released in September, account for 35 percent of all student debt delinquencies.

Delinquencies on student loans in general have taken a turn for the worse over the past decade, outpacing those of all other forms of debt, according to data released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last week. And women, according to the AAUW report, suffer a student loan delinquency rate of 3.5 percent four years out of college, compared to men’s 2.4 percent.

As for how to close the gender student debt gap, Baum said attention shouldn’t be wasted on grants, which would essentially amount to slapping a Band-Aid onto a gaping wound. Policymakers, she said, should focus on the root of the problem to ensure that women can pay off their loans at the same pace as men.

“What you want is for earnings to be more comparable. You shouldn’t be saying, if women make less than men, they should pay less for college,” she said, pointing out that tuition is more or less the same for both genders. “If women make 15 to 20 percent less than men, we don’t want to give them a little grant to make it easier for them to go to college when the wage gap is going to cost them for their whole lives.”