Student debt is keeping many Americans from becoming homeowners — and COVID didn’t help

While the pandemic has been economically devastating for many Americans, for others it hasn’t proved as destructive. Indeed, even when they weren’t receiving stimulus checks, Americans’ credit scores in 2020 rose to their highest level in more than a decade.

But those with student-loan debt have had little opportunity to move ahead financially during the pandemic, even though the government allowed them to pause payments on their federal student loans. That could have serious ramifications for people’s housing decisions in the years to come.

Only slightly more than half (54%) of student-loan borrowers in a new survey said the pandemic either allowed them to pay off their student debt earlier than originally planned or got them closer to paying it off.

That’s according to a new study from the National Association of Realtors. The analysis sought to expand on previous research into the impact of student debt on homeownership to see how the COVID-19 crisis has affected people’s decision-making around their finances. The study was based on a survey of roughly 2,000 student-loan holders conducted by Morning Consult.

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