Report: Female grads earn $8,000 less than men

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- A year after graduating from college, women are earning thousands of dollars less per year than their male peers.

Women who worked full-time jobs one year after receiving their diplomas earned 82 cents for every dollar men earned. That's according to a report from the American Association of University Women, which analyzed data from a Department of Education survey of 15,000 graduates conducted in 2009, the most recent data available.

While men earned average salaries of $42,918, women earned $35,296 -- a nearly $8,000 difference, the report found.

"You hear in the news that women are now out-earning their male peers, but what we found in looking at those emerging from college is that there is still a gender pay gap," said Catherine Hill, director of research at AAUW. "And if you have a smaller paycheck, a bigger chunk comes out for student loans and means have less money to live on one year after college."

Why the gap? College major, occupation and number of hours worked all play into the pay gap between men and women.

Men typically choose majors that result in more lucrative careers post-graduation, like engineering. Even if men and women major in the same subject, men tend to end up in higher-paying jobs. Men also work more hours on average, according to AAUW.

But even when controlling for these factors -- by looking at men and women with the same majors, jobs and hours -- women were still paid 7% less than men.

"Too often, both women and men dismiss the pay gap as simply a matter of different choices. But even women who make the same educational and occupational choices that men make do not typically end up with the same earnings," the report said.

Female business majors, for example, earned a little over $38,000, while men earned more than $45,000. Among men and women who took teaching jobs, women earned 89% of what men earned. And while men reported working 45 hours a week compared to the 43 hours reported by women, among those who said they work 40 hours a week, women earned 84% of what men earned (across all jobs).

Other less measurable factors -- such as gender discrimination and willingness to negotiate salary, which studies have shown men are more likely to do -- probably make up some of that remaining 7% gap, AAUW said.

Grades and the type of school don't help to explain the gap in this case, because the report found that women graduated with higher GPAs of 3.30, compared to 3.18 for men, and men and women generally attended similar types of schools that were equally selective.

Debt piles up for female grads: Thanks to this pay gap, women are spending a much bigger share of their earnings on monthly student loan payments.

While women and men borrowed similar amounts of money to fund their education -- $24,908 among women and $23,734 among men -- nearly half, or 47%, of women were paying more than 8% of their earnings toward student loan debt in 2009, compared to 39% of men.

Another 20% of women paid more than 15% of their earnings toward their loans, versus 15% of men. And while AAUW estimates that spending more than 7.8% of earnings on student loan debt is unmanageable for women and 8.9% is unmanageable for men (based on average pay), 53% of women pay more than this, compared to 39% of men. That's up significantly from 2001, when 38% of women and 27% of men spent more than what was deemed affordable.

"It's shocking that these numbers are as high as they are, and it suggests to us that student debt continues to grow but we're not seeing the same increases in wages -- and women's wages in particular are not keeping pace," said Hill.

And even as they pay huge chunks of their income toward their debt in an effort to keep up, women were left with an average $25,776 in student loan debt one year after graduation, while men owed $24,209.