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Student loan debt plays major role in homeownership gap, studies show

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Posted at 10:10 AM, Oct 07, 2021

The homeownership gap between white and Black homeowners is about the same as it was in 1968 — the year the Fair Housing Act went into effect.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the homeownership rate among Black Americans is 42%, and the homeownership rate among Latinos is 47%.

Researchers say there's a variety of systemic challenges that make it difficult for people of color to own a home, including student loan debt.

More Black and Latino students have been enrolling in college since 2000. But according to the National Center for Education Statistics, Black students are more likely to take on student loan debt, have higher levels of debt after graduation and have lower incomes than their white peers.

That means that Black graduates end up paying off their student loans at a slower pace.

"Unfortunately, they do not start off on the same playing field," said Jessica Lautz of the National Association of Realtors. "We know that minority students are more likely to take on student loan debt because they have less access to, perhaps, scholarships or family help in the college admission process."

Loan debt doesn't just affect the ability to purchase a home. Researchers say even when people of color are able to buy a house, they tend to be 11% less expensive than the homes of white buyers.

"Even among successful home buyers, if they enter homeownership and they're saddled with student loan debt, they're purchasing a home that is significantly less than another buyer, and that's really going to cut into the affordability of homes, and it's the lack of affordability that buyers are facing," Lautz said.

Less expensive homes eventually affect a homeowner's wealth gains over time.

Loan debt also impacted other life choices of people of color, like whether or not to continue going to school, start a family or get married. The report found that Hispanic and Black borrowers were more likely to put off those milestones and decisions.