How does student debt impact millennial homeownership rates in Chicago?

It’s no secret millennials just aren’t buying homes like the generations before them did. According to a recent report from Apartment List, the average student debt burden on college graduates increased by 70 percent between 2005 and 2015. In Chicago, it’s estimated to take 11 years for a college graduate with student debt to save up for a 20 percent down payment.

Graphic courtesy of Apartment List

Since 1980, the median income has grown by 25 percent, but the median home price has gone up by 60 percent. To throw in an even bigger wrench, the average cost of undergraduate tuition increased by 160 percent. Apartment List cited a study completed by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which found that students graduating in 2015 had an average $34,000 in student debt.

For the report, Apartment List surveyed more than 11,000 millennials across the nation to determine how individuals with a bachelor’s degree and student debt, a bachelor’s degree and no debt, and those who did not graduate college save for a down payment. Out of all those surveyed, roughly 80 percent said they plan to purchase a home in the future.

Millennials wanting to become homeowners will have to save for a down payment, which takes time. Nationally, recent college grads need 7.6 years to save for a 20 percent down payment on the median condo market rate. 

For Chicago millennials, it will take an average 3.2 years to save for a 20 percent down payment if there is no student debt to pay off. Millennials who didn’t go to college will take about 13.4 years to save up for a down payment. The average college student with no debt has about $18,680 saved for a down payment, while the college grad with debt only has about $6,310. Those without a degree only have $2,330 saved for a home.

Graphic courtesy of Apartment List

Luckily for millennials in Chicago, they have more saved than the national average. Apartment List found that college graduates without debt have an average $10,370 saved for a down payment. The average college graduate with debt has about $4,320 saved. Millennials without a college degree nationally have just slightly less saved than those in Chicago, having

“Chicago is an area with a strong economy and good job opportunities, but is more affordable than many other big cities, giving millennials more opportunity to save,” said Chris Salviati, housing economist for Apartment List, in an email to “Average home prices in Chicago are also a bit lower than the national average, meaning that millennials in Chicago need to save a bit less for a down payment.”

Therefore, when compared to other parts of the country, homeownership is more attainable for millennials in Chicago.

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