Student Loan Debt

Among recent home buyers, one-quarter have student loan debt and the typical amount is $25,000. The share of those with student loan debt rises to 41 percent among first-time home buyers. Even among successful home buyers this amount of debt is cited as a difficulty in their home buying process.

Political Advocacy

Current Legislation/Regulation

None at this time.


In-Depth

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Legislative Contact(s):

Vijay Yadlapati,
vyadlapati@realtors.org
202-383-1090

Colin Allen,
callen@realtors.org
202-383-1131

Regulatory Contact(s):

Charles Dawson,
cdawson@realtors.org
202-383-7522

What is the fundamental issue?

New research clearly indicates that the continued rise in student debt along with a weak labor market has a long-term impact on the ability of first-time homebuyers, particularly lower income consumers, to qualify for mortgages. Many of these potential borrowers find a significant portion of their total monthly debt is comprised of student loan payments.

I am a real estate professional. What does this mean for my business?

NAR research indicates that student debt liability negatively impacts the ability of potential home buyers to save for or meet down payment requirements. Student loan debt is also having an impact on potential homebuyers’ ability to qualify for a home due to high debt-to-income levels. These factors have limited their access to affordable mortgage options needed to purchase a home. Though a vast majority of borrowers have been responsible and diligent in making their student loan payments, their ability to save for priorities such as emergency savings, medical expenses, and down payments have become more difficult and impact their decisions such as purchasing a home.

NAR Policy:

NAR strongly support policy proposals to allow student loan borrowers to refinance into lower interest rates and to streamline income-based repayment programs. Additionally, NAR supports policy proposals that promote student loan simplification, clarity and education. NAR also shall ensure that mortgage underwriting guidelines related to student loan debt are standardized and do not impair homeownership.

Legislative/Regulatory Status/Outlook

Passage of any student loan legislation would require it to be apart of a broader reauthorization of the "Higher Education Act" (HEA). While Congress continues to work on reauthorizing the HEA, a reauthorization of the HEA is believed to be unlikely in 2017 due to congressional gridlock. 

During the 114th Congress, the U.S. House and Senate held hearings on college costs and federal loan and grant programs as it prepares to reauthorize the HEA, which expired at the end of December 2015. Since the HEA was created in 1965, the sweeping law governing federal financial aid programs has been rewritten eight separate times.

NAR Committee:

Conventional Financing and Policy Committee

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