Maybe college wasn’t such a good idea. Say what you will about today’s 20-somethings, but they represent the one demographic crucial to sustaining the current rental boom. And one of the main reasons they’ve flocked to apartment living? They are buried under piles of student debt and can’t afford a major purchase, like a home.

According to a report from, Gen Y renters may not be renting by choice, but rather by economic design. In many cases, even if they wanted to buy, they can’t. Take a look at some key findings from the report:

  • The average single student debtor is likely ineligible for the typical home mortgage due to their debt-to-income ratio.

  • Including a typical mortgage and other consumer debt, the average single student debtor has a debt-to-income ratio of .49, meaning they would pay about half of their monthly income toward student loans and mortgage payments, and would not qualify for an FHA loan or many private mortgages.

  • A similar typical single debtor in 2002 would have a debt-to-income ratio of .43, a 14 percent increase over the last decade.

  • For couples looking to buy a house, it is more difficult to qualify for a home mortgage when even one of the buyers has student debt, and even harder if both buyers have student debt.