The Wall Street Journal recently reported that 43% of the 22 million people with federal and private student debt are not making their monthly loan payments. This includes those who are in default (more than twelve months late), delinquent (more than one month late), or received permission to postpone their payment due to economic hardship. It’s no wonder lenders have tightened their related underwriting requirements!
Some say the consequences of simply assessing a higher default rate of interest is not harsh enough. Others say student borrowers are more apathetic now because they are in the same boat with 10 million others – and the problem is just too large to penalize everyone.
A lender cannot generally repossess a borrower’s car or other assets in the event of a student loan default. But to recoup losses, the government is now garnishing wages and withholding tax refunds once students commence a job after graduation.
When seeking mortgage pre-qualification, applicants have not been required to include deferred student loan payments in their debt-to-income ratio calculation – provided the deferral was for more than 12 months beyond the proposed mortgage closing date. Now, FHA lenders will generally use the known monthly payment or 2% of the student loan balance – versus conventional lenders using the greater of the actual monthly payment or 1%. Assuming a $37,000 deferred loan (the average U.S. student loan balance today), suddenly having to include a 1% or $370 monthly projected payment would certainly have an adverse effect on a mortgage qualification ratio.