Student loan debt has hit millennials hard, especially Black millennials. As a result of that burden, 60 percent of young non-homeowners say that the debt is keeping them from purchasing a home, a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors found.
Fifty-five percent of Black millennials — ages 25 to 40 years old — now live with their parents, and most attribute it to heavy student loan debt. A majority of young adults in the U.S. are living with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression. In July 2020, 52 percent of young adults were residing with one or both of their parents, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of monthly Census Bureau data.
A majority of young adults 18 to 29 years old can’t afford an apartment rental, let alone buy a home, and many of them attribute this to high student loan debt. Student loan debt remains at a record-breaking $1.73 trillion. An incredible 43 million Americans have student loan debt — that’s one in 8 Americans, according to an analysis of May 2021 census data. And the debt crisis extends beyond millennials. While borrowers ages 25-to-34 are the most likely to hold student loan debt, but the highest amount is owed by those 35 to 49, Nerd Wallet reported.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge recently described how student debt is playing a role in limiting homeownership for Black people. “Who has student debt? Poor people, Black people, brown people. We’re the people who carry most debt. And so the system’s already skewed toward us not being creditworthy,” Fudge told Axios’ Mike Allen during an interview in June with “Axios on HBO.”
“Housing affordability is worsening, leaving future home buyers with student debt at a severe disadvantage,” NAR President and Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International CEO Charlie Oppler said in a statement when the survey was released last month. “Younger Americans shouldn’t have to choose between education and homeownership.”
The NAR survey, which was conducted in June, found that 28 percent of African-Americans who owe on student loans would buy a home with extra money if they didn’t have such debt.
Black Graduates Average Double the Student Loan Debt Load of Whites
Student loan debt is at a whopping $1.73 trillion, Federal Reserve data shows. Black Americans carry the highest debt. The National Center for Education Statistics, recent Black college graduates have an average of $52,000 in debt. That’s twice the $25,000 on average for white millennial college graduates.
Even years after Black graduates leave college, they are still saddled with more debt. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that four years after graduation millennial Black graduates owe an average of 12 percent more than they originally borrowed because of interest.
African-Americans also pay higher monthly payments on their loans. Twenty-nine percent of Black student loan borrowers are paying $350 a month or more on their debt. Over half of African-Americans say their loan debt is more than their total net worth.
Because of that immense debt, recent Black college graduates have delayed homeownership, according to the National Association of Realtors’ poll. Not only have they been unable to purchase a home, but 52 percent of new Black American college graduates also say they are still living with a family member because of their debt.
Few Borrowers Understand Student Loan Debt
The NAR survey also found that many college students said they are in deep debt because they feel they didn’t understand the terms of the loans. Only 23 percent of the graduates polled said they understood the costs of their loans when they entered into their loan agreements.
Borrowers Can Reduce or Delay Payments
There are options to reduce or postpone payments. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some federal loan debt payments have been deferred. According to Studentaid.gov, borrowers may be able to delay payments if they are suffering from COVID-related financial hardships. The loan deferment program started in March 2020 and has been extended to January 2022. The relief measures include 0 percent interest rates and delays on defaulted loans.
Some borrowers can get temporary relief from some qualifying federal loans. Borrowers can log in to the Studentaid.gov site to gain more information about which specific loans are in deferment. Military members may also get interest payments delayed as well in their federal loans.
According to Education Data, 50.8 percent of Black millennial students used government-backed student loans. Many of them could benefit from the delay in student loan payments.
Make Income-Based Repayments
If Black college graduates can’t defer or delay payments, they may make income-based repayments. When making a low income, they can apply for a reduced payment with their student loan providers. An income-based repayment plan may reduce payments to an amount as low as $0 for a few months.
Loan Forgiveness an Option for Borrowers Who Become Teachers
In addition to income-based repayment, some borrowers may get loan forgiveness. If Black borrowers are teachers, they can take advantage of some forgiveness programs. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs are just some programs that forgive thousands of student loans if they teach in underserved communities.
Loan Forgiveness Could Help Eliminate Black Student Loan Debt
Student loan cancellation is gaining more support as more Black Americans suffer from the burden of their student loan debt. Many progressive members of Congress are calling for a complete cancellation of American student debt.
President Joe Biden has canceled $11 billion in student loan debt for disabled students, and he also canceled debt for students cheated by for-profit colleges. However, some institutions say more debt cancellation is necessary to help more Black borrowers.
The Center for Responsible Lending notes that if President Biden canceled $50,000 of each borrower’s student loan debt, 75 percent of borrowers would be debt-free.