Money & Business

Associations Say Student Debt Is Hurting the Economy

By / May 10, 2013

Several groups, including the National Association of Realtors, AARP, and the American Medical Association, are speaking out on how student loan debt is hurting the economy.

On May 8, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) warned that if something isn’t done to ease skyrocketing student loan debt, the nation’s economy will suffer the consequences.

We hear from many who say they just need to live with their parents until they weather the storm or tackle this debt, which could lead to delayed economic activity.

The agency’s  report, “Student Loan Affordability,” states  that student loan debt totals more than $1.1 trillion and cautions that it not only damages borrowers’ credit, but also prevents college graduates from saving for retirement, starting small businesses, and paying for healthcare.

“We hear from many who say they just need to live with their parents until they weather the storm or tackle this debt, which could lead to delayed economic activity,” Rohit Chopra, student loan ombudsman for the CFPB, said in a Reuters news report. “With improved credit, many borrowers could get ahead and climb the economic ladder. Most borrowers aren’t looking to get off the hook—they are just looking for a repayment system that works.”

The report included several insights associations submitted to the agency for the study:

The National Association of Home Builders: NAHB said college graduates with high debt are less likely later to qualify for home loans because of student debt. The association also noted that “high student loan debt has an impact on consumers’ debt-to-income ratio—an important metric for decisions about creditworthiness in mortgage origination.”

The National Association of Realtors: NAR told the agency that young workers saddled with college debt could not rely on savings to fund down payments like most first-time home buyers. The group’s research also found that first-time home buyers’ market share was 30 percent in February, down from the historical level of 40 percent.

AARP: Growing debt will “threaten” college graduates’ ability to save for retirement and could “end up requiring them to delay retirement,” according to AARP. The group’s report also cites data that show 43 percent of young workers don’t save enough in a 401(k) to receive a full employer match and are “more likely cash out their plans when changing jobs.”

The American Medical Association: AMA cautioned that high debt could affect career choices of new doctors. Those carrying large student debt could “abandon geriatrics and family medicine in favor of more lucrative specialties, exacerbating the primary care shortage.”

Daniel Ford

Daniel Ford is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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