Report | Education

Student debt and homeownership barriers in D.C.

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In Washington D.C., rising student loan debt is associated with low homeownership rates, exacerbating racial and economic inequalities. Since the implementation of the COVID-19 repayment pause, there has been a slight decrease in overall student loan debt. Despite this, young borrowers in the District’s majority-Black neighborhoods continue to be burdened with disproportionately high student debt relative to income and low repayment rates. Bold policies, such as student debt forgiveness, could mitigate these disparities and make homeownership more accessible.

This report is a joint project of EPI and the Jain Family Institute.

Key findings

  • The decline in homeownership rates among young borrowers in D.C., from 22.1% in 2010 to 13.7% in 2022, is closely linked to the surge in student loan debt.
  • Homeownership in D.C. is marred by racial and educational disparities, as majority-Black neighborhoods grapple with lower educational achievements and elevated mortgage denial rates.
  • Young borrowers in D.C. not only have the highest levels of student debt in the United States but also face challenging debt-to-income ratios, exacerbating financial strain, particularly in majority-Black areas.
  • The root causes of racial disparities in homeownership and mounting student debt in D.C. are systemic, necessitating multi-faceted federal policy for meaningful change.

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