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The Fastest Growing Household Debt for Borrowers

J.P. Morgan Chase reports that student debt has doubled in the past 10 years [1] to $1.5 trillion in 2018—second only to mortgage debt—and impacts 45 million borrowers. 

“Although the financial returns from a higher education degree over a lifetime typically exceed the costs, roughly 22% of student loan borrowers are in default,” the report said. “As a result, some have framed the ‘student loan crisis’ as a crisis of student loan repayment rather than student loan debt.” 

Among the findings by J.P. Morgan Chase was that the average family pays a median of $179 per month in loans of take-home income in months with positive payments. Nearly a quarter of families spend more than 11% of their income on student loans. 

While noting younger borrowers, those between 18 and 24-years-old, collectively have the most student debt, it is those within lower-income families that have the most trouble making consistent payments. 

The study revealed that 44% of homebuyers who earn less than $50,000 annually make positive payments to their loan. That number increases to 52% for those earning between $50,000-$1000, and 63% for borrowers who make more than $100,000.

Also, families with multiple loans pay their student loan bill more inconsistently than they do their mortgage or auto loan. The report states that families who pay their loans between 90-100% of the time, make payments on their student loan debt 54% of the time, compared to 64% for their mortgage. 

Those borrowers also pay their auto loan 62% of the time, and just 56% pay their student loan bill consistently. 

Reports show that student loan debt has already been impacting the housing market, including a report out of Dallas and WFAA, [2] which delves into how growing debt is making it harder for borrowers to buy a home. 

“From a practical perspective, somebody coming out of school with heavy student loan debt may simply not qualify for a conventional loan,” said Rick Sharga, founder, President and CEO of CJ Patrick Co., a California-based real estate and financial services consulting firm.

Sharga added that millennials came into the market after the Great Recession, many of which had record levels of student-loan debt, and into a market with no jobs.

“The notion of them being able to pay back that student loan debt in any reasonable period of time was pretty much a fantasy,” Shagra said.