Are Millennials Killing Homeownership or are Student Loans Killing Millennials?

Billy McGrath on 17 January 2019

Federal Reserve economists recently published a study on the impact of the $1.5 trillion student debt balance on the financial situation of young adults in America. Their findings show that student loan debt is significantly decreasing homeownership in the millennial population.

Between 2005 and 2014, the percentage of homeowners aged 24 to 32 dropped from 45 percent to 36 percent. Homeownership among all age groups in America has decreased during this time, but only half as much as the drop in the millennial population.

While student debt not the only factor causing the decrease in millennial ownership, it can explain about 20 percent of the drop. An increase of just $1,000 in debt led to a 1-to-2 percent drop in home ownership according to the Fed’s findings.

A large portion of the student debt surge came during and after the economic collapse in 2008. The financial crisis created a wave of unemployment, which increased the demand for higher education and led to the federalization of the student loan program by the government. Tuition costs continued to soar, as well, but wages have not kept up. This perfect storm has led to the student debt crisis that has left nearly 7 out of 10 American graduates in debt.

Student loan debt can impact Americans’ abilities to purchase homes in a variety of ways. The presence of student debt negatively affects borrowers’ credit scores making it harder to qualify for a mortgage. Borrowers focused on repaying their loan balances also prevents them from adequately saving to buy a home.

The Fed offered a few ways to address the student loan debt crisis, including more state government involvement and income-based repayment programs. Employers can also get involved by offering student loan repayment assistance to their employees. Companies like Goodly provide a platform that makes it hassle-free and inexpensive for employers to implement and administer repayment benefits.

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