Program in a Box: Deeper in Debt Program Guide

Women now earn 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees from American colleges and universities and take on more debt on average than men at almost every degree level and type. As a result, women hold nearly two-thirds of the outstanding student debt in the United States — more than $800 billion. Factor in the gender pay gap and this debt influences many major life decisions for women. AAUW’s research report Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans provides data, analysis, and recommendations to help bolster women’s economic security in the face of the student debt crisis.

Use the resources here to share this information with your local campuses and the community at large so we can work to change this chilling reality.

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1. Decide on your audience.

Who needs to know about this information? There are many potential audiences, and you could actually hold several different types of events based upon your attendees. Here is a list and we’re certain you can think of many other possibilities as well.

  • College students
  • AAUW student organizations
  • High school students and their parents/guardians
  • High school counselors
  • Legislators
  • Elementary school parents/guardians
  • Nontraditional students contemplating returning to school or attempting their first degree

2. What will the event look like?

Once you’ve decided upon your audience you’ll have a much better idea of how to present the material. The program matrix has a list of all the potential types of programs, and we suggest you review all your possibilities.

Will you be making this event a fundraiser? With content of this financial importance to families you could easily charge $10 for registration. If only 50 people attend then you just raised $500 in one evening! If you are attempting to reach underserved areas you may decide to waive that fee so you can reach as many people as possible.

A good way of starting any program is by examining the situation in an engaging way. AAUW’s Deeper in Debt video will set the stage for the program that follows. Make certain that you leave time for a Q&A period and send people home with an action they can take. Today’s audiences want to engage in solutions, not just learn about the problem. Also remember to consider how you will connect with your attendees in the future.

3. Where and when will you hold the event?

Now that you’ve determined your potential audience and the type of event, you can better decide where and when to host your program. When deciding where to hold your event, keep in mind proximity to your target audience, whether or not the space will help attract attendees, and, of course, cost. Your audience will also determine the month, day of the week, and time you hold your meetings. Would you hold a program aimed at students and their parents the last week of summer vacation? Would you try and present a program to high school counselors during school hours? Think of the attendees’ daily routines and plan accordingly.

4. Use these resources.

  • The Deeper in Debt PowerPoint
    Created by the AAUW research team, this presentation is the same one that AAUW staff will be presenting at various workshops and conferences across the country. Will you be presenting the findings and recommendations in your program? Then use this in its entirety. Will you be kicking off a panel discussion? Then select the slides you’ll use based on the conversation that will ensue.
  • Animated Deeper in Debt video
    Every AAUW event should start with a video about who we are or the topic at hand. This fabulous video very quickly depicts the impact student debt has on women throughout their lives. Play it, then have your emcee take the podium with their welcome remarks. It will make for a very professional start to your event.
  • The Deeper in Debt report and executive summary
    One of these should be on every chair as your attendees enter the room.
  • Deeper in Debt expert panel livestream video
    AAUW launched this research by assembling a phenomenal panel of experts in the field. You could host an event just by viewing the livestream! Watch it with your planning committee and see if it would work for you. Or use the video to help inspire your own panel.

5. Publicize your event.

The success of your event depends on how you market it to the public! Here are some must-dos:

  • Put up posters where potential attendees live, work, and shop.
  • Have guest speakers promote the event to their social media followers.
  • Display posters at the venue.
  • Put a notice in the local paper, or better yet pitch them a story.
  • Promote the event on your branch website and Facebook page.
  • Write a letter to the editor about the problem and invite the public to learn more.
  • Ask local radio stations to run a PSA about the event.
  • Partner with another organization, like the PTA or an honor society, that would be interested in educating their members about the issue. Then they’ll promote it to an entirely different guest list.

6. Follow up with attendees.

Do not let anyone leave the event without a way they can engage with your branch in the future. Capture attendees’ names and addresses and offer to

  • Share the link to the full report.
  • Speak at an event at their school, office, church, club, or organization.
  • Let them know about other events affecting their children’s education.
  • Have a door prize and pull the winner’s name. (Better yet, make sure a local business donates the door prize. Perhaps a college test prep course?)
  • Inform them of any deadlines for local scholarships, the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, or the AAUW National Student Advisory Council.
  • Keep them posted on legislation on the issue.

Remember, the whole reason you offer mission-based programing is to show your community why they need to be an AAUW member or supporter!