New Frontier in Student Debt: It Stifles the Housing Recovery

“Students enrolled in colleges here in Chicago and across Illinois are on track to become part of a generation burdened by debilitating debt, limited career prospects and therefore long-term financial insecurity,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said recently, according to the Tribune.

With the start of another school year, the air is once again filled with angst over the high cost of college. But the discussion is shifting. It’s not just about runaway tuition inflation anymore, or even the individual hardship that excessive college loans create for graduates. Now we’re talking about how student debt is everyone’s problem because it is crushing the economy.

Total student debt recently crossed the $1 trillion mark, more than Americans collectively owe on credit cards. New findings conclude that this debt is shutting young people out of the housing market, further depressing what is already the economy’s most troubled sector. According to Denied: The Impact of Student Debt on the Ability to Buy a House, a report from the youth advocacy group Young Invincibles:

“As monthly student debt payments increase for college graduates, so does their struggle to qualify for a mortgage. Looking at a key factor in qualifying for a mortgage—the debt-to-income ratio—we find some disturbing results. … Home purchases create jobs and spur economic growth. Cutting out a cohort of graduates who previously participated in this market will add another drag to an economy only just emerging from the Great Recession.”


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