College Connect: Student Loan Debt Not Only Factor in Millennials Delaying Homeownership

Posted By Crystal Beasley

By Rakel Johnson

College comes at a hefty price. It’s no surprise that many students take out thousands in loans to afford their education, and many graduate with a large amount of debt.

With higher student debt amounts comes the lowest homeownership rate among young adults in decades.

Homeownership is being delayed, and economists often attribute this to the rise in student debt. However, homeownership and student debt may not be as directly correlated, according to Kimberly Skobba, an associate professor in financial planning, housing and consumer economics at the University of Georgia.

She explained that student debt may be a factor in the delay, but it can’t take all of the blame.

“Millennials are delaying homeownership, and I think that may or may not be a function of student loan debt. It might also be delaying marriage, having children, and all of those things kind of bundled up into whether or not someone might become a homeowner,” said Skobba.

Skobba said buying a home is more than a financial decision.

Homeownership comes with a variety of other responsibilities that many don’t consider, such as maintaining the house to keep it aesthetically appealing, clean and functioning properly. It’s a serious time commitment, she said.

Kenneth Cochran, a senior finance and marketing major at UGA, agreed that the time commitment may play a major role in the delay of homeownership. He believes millennials don’t want to be immediately bound to owning a home because his generation prefers time to explore.

“Millennials are changing common norms. We’re trying new things, we’re going to new places, less of us want to go into corporate America,” Cochran said. “It’s not as much about the stability anymore as it is the experience, freedom and pursuing a passion.”

It’s also no secret that many college students are moving back in with their parents after graduation. Cochran thinks that it might be a great way to get ahead.

“Ideally speaking, I want to spend a year at home, work, make money, pay off student debt, and then move out,” said Cochran. “I don’t want to jump the gun and move things too fast.”

Whether student loan debt is the main cause of millennials delaying homeownership or not, most people would agree that making informed decisions is most important.

Skobba said more people should take advantage of things like housing counseling in order to get educated.

“I think people should really be informed and even go through the housing counseling class, and I don’t think many people even know that’s something that exists. Understand what it means to be a homeowner,” she said.

Donavan Juleus, a sophomore public relations major at UGA, agreed with Skobba and said classes like housing counseling should be more widespread and available to millennials.

“College is a lot more than just classes, it’s a small model of life on a larger scale,” Juleus said. “Aside from the stuff for my major, I think that with all areas of our life, there should be some sort of counseling: housing, taxes, or even relationships.”

Rakel Johnson is a student at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia

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