The shark of student debt is swallowing the fish of the housing market.
Scared by the cliff-walk of the Great Recession, Americans have determined that the new path to success means a college degree and no more 30-year mortgages. In other words, out of the frying pan and into the fire.
In May 2014, the New York Daily News reported that total student debt in America surpassed $1.2 trillion dollars. Like Atlas shouldering the earth, so college graduates must shoulder student debt payments, a lower-quality job market, inflated housing costs and a socioeconomic ladder with no rungs at the bottom. How can the average American stomach both student debt and a mortgage?
USA Today recently crunched the numbers and decided that they could not. Based on national averages, a household with $250 a month earmarked for student loan payments lose $44,000 of buying power. Households that pay $750 a month might have priced themselves out of the market entirely.
Some experts like Marnie Bennett of Canada worry that student debt is a grenade that, once detonated, will take out a chunk of the housing market as well. Current homeowners are refusing to renovate or relocate, and potential first-time homeowners are opting for cheap apartments or their parents’ basements. Starter homes have been hit especially hard.
In other words, owning one’s house is becoming a privilege reserved for the upper class, where fresh graduates must choose between owning a home and being debt-free. But is this a choice that American students should have to make?