Student loans are a big deal. U.S. households borrow more for education than they have in credit card debt or auto loans. Total student loan debt reached $1 trillion last year, and nearly 70% of college graduates have loans.
The student loan burden has hurt mortgage lending. A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that for the first time in at least a decade, 30-year-olds without a history of student loans are more likely to own a home (or home-secured debt, which indicates eventual homeownership) than those with student loans.
Fortune reports that while student debt had once been considered a sign of a reliable borrower, it now more likely means a borrower won't be able to pay back a loan. Thirty-year-olds with student loans have credit scores an average of 24 points lower than those without loans.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York points out that it's not simply a lack of room in the budget that's problematic for young people with student loans. It's also that post-recession, lenders have tightened the requirements for a potential borrower—and grads with substantial loans may be disqualified due to an undesirable debt-to-income ratio.
If you find yourself in a tight spot with student loans, you aren't alone: Our checklist provides a step-by-step plan to help you pay them off.