WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 15: As college students across the country graduate with enormous debt, advocates display a hand-painted sign on the ellipse in front of the White House to urge President Joe Biden to sign an executive order canceling student debt on June 15 June 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for We The 45 Million)
Paul Morigi/Photographer: Paul Morigi/Getty
While President Biden's campaign goal of providing $10,000 per person for federal student loan forgiveness remains elusive, other types of education-related debt relief are available this year and could have some benefits for home loans. In some cases, however, the primary responsibility lies with consumers to reap benefits, and the expected surge in regulatory action, such as Navient's agreement to scrap 70,000 student loans this week, may create a difficult environment in which to Obtain information from companies that service this type of debt.
Relaxed rules for Federal Housing Administration-insured loans, which now calculate income-adjusted payment deferrals for a smaller percentage of individual student debt, became mandatory Jan. 1 over time, helping more than 550,000 people. The latter change aims to better define which full-time employees can receive forgiveness once they've made 120 monthly payments, and includes a limited waiver that will temporarily allow some people in this category to consolidate multiple loan types. Eligible student loan borrowers who wish to apply for an exemption must submit an application before October 31.
According to a series of reports by UK financial services firm Legal & General on US millennials and home ownership, student loans are seen as a major barrier to home ownership for the population that currently dominates the workforce. More than a third of college-educated people in this generation reported that student loans had an impact on their ability to buy a home, which they rated as either “strong” or “very strong.” The proportion in the “very strong” category was particularly high at 23%, and 26% of people in this category prioritize paying off their student loans over other forms of debt.
The cancellation and forgiveness available so far appears to benefit a large number of potential homebuyers less directly in the short term than the FHA amendment and could require some legwork on the part of the consumer. In the case of government employees with eligible student loans, borrowers may need to proactively and persistently seek a waiver and receive written confirmation of the waiver before attempting to use it to reduce the debt-to-income ratio used in mortgage qualification. said credit experts. State officials involved in the Navient arrangement said affected student loan borrowers would automatically receive checks in the mail, but as of the reporting date it wasn't clear how easy it would be to obtain written proof of loan cancellation.
"If we know your student loan will be forgiving in the future, it's difficult to qualify because banks will rely on what they know today," Melissa Cohn, senior mortgage banker at William Raveis Mortgage, said in an interview. "The bottom line is, unless a borrower has something in writing that says they don't have to make payment on a student loan, they still need to consider doing so."
Getting something in writing is doable, but the student loan services industry has lost four players recently, including Navient, partly due to regulatory concerns. This could lead to some referrals, which could make it difficult to access information that mortgage lenders need about applicants' education-related debt.
Existing student loan providers are ready to help, but mortgage applicants may want to have records of their education-related debt on hand to reduce the time it would otherwise take to create the information home finance companies need, said Brittany Hummel, service delivery director for the Consumer Finance division at Wipro Opus Risk Solutions in an interview. Your company provides subservicing for student loans and mortgages.
"I encourage borrowers to educate themselves about their student loans," Hummel said, noting that the forgiveness or other relief available depends on the type they have. "Put your papers in order. If your servicer leaves, find out which one your credit has converted to and pull your payment history so you have it.”
That advice also applies to borrowers whose federal student loan forbearance was recently extended through May, Hummel said. Because this type of forbearance was automatically applied to certain state student loans under the CARES Act, many still have it. Borrowers should be familiar with the terms as they will need to consider their repayment options upon expiry. Student loan borrowers might also want to consider whether forgoing forbearance might be the right choice for them.
Some forbearance student borrowers are not charged interest. That could open up an opportunity if they'd like to make some payments while still enrolled in a plan. This could expedite the repayment of a student loan and potentially improve a borrower's mortgage qualification sooner, in which case full payment would go to principal, Hummel said.
And forbearer student loan borrowers can still apply for a mortgage based on their long-term ability to repay, said Paul Buege, president and chief operating officer of home lender Inlanta Mortgage.
"Even if you are relieved for a moment by deferral or forbearance, we still expect a placeholder payment," said Büge in an interview. "It makes a lot of sense because I think we all know that when this is all over, everyone will most likely have to make their payments again."
While the possibility of more aggressive and widespread forgiveness still exists, Buege — like Cohn — warned student loan borrowers not to rely on it.
"There are hopeful people who say the government might forgive more student debt, but I'm not one to talk politics about it and we can't predict the future. So what we (mortgage lenders) are trying to do as a community is just to be very sensible,” Buege said.