New research found that high foreclosure rates between 2006 and 2011 were closely linked to high college attendance rates. 

Could sending a child to college increase a family’s risk of losing their home? New research published in the journal Demography seems to indicate this could be the case.

Sociologists Jacob Faber and Peter Rich found that from 2006 to 2011 high foreclosure rates were closely linked to high college attendance rates.

The study looked at 305 metro areas that are roughly 85 percent of the population. The results showed that when college attendance rates rose in one area, foreclosure rates rose the following year.

In fact, even a one percent increase in college attendance rates could lead to up to 27,400 additional foreclosures. Faber said that these results indicate that “the financial burden of paying for college increased foreclosure risk,” according to The Washington Post.  

The risk of foreclosure seemed to remain fairly steady across all income levels; even high-earning households were at greater risk of foreclosure after sending a child to college. However, the greatest risk was actually for middle-income families.

Other studies seem to back up Faber’s and Rich’s findings. The Panel Study of Income Dynamics found that a family’s risk of foreclosure doubles after sending a child off to college, the Post reported. Statewide data showed that states with high college attendance rates also had high foreclosure rates.

According to the Agriculture Department, the average cost of raising a child is $233,610. And research has shown that just by having a child at all, families raise their risk of foreclosure.  

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But the responsibility of paying for college seems to add a new layer of stress into the mix. This could be because the cost of tuition has tripled over the last 20 years. And the cost of room and board has more than doubled.

Faber remarked to the Post on the irony that going to college and buying a home are considered two essential parts of achieving the “American Dream.” Yet, he finds it problematic the amount of financial strain these two events seem to cause many Americans.

Faber stressed that earning a college degree has proven to be increasingly valuable. But he added that families shouldn’t have to risk losing their home to earn a degree.

Currently, Americans owe $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loans – more than double what it was in 2009, the start of the timeline being studied. In 2010, student loan debt surpassed credit card debt and auto loans.

So if this study were to be repeated today, it’s possible that Americans sending a child to college could be even more at risk for foreclosure. Families who are trying to decide on which college to attend – and how they’ll pay for it – might want to consider narrowing their search to colleges that offer the most scholarships and grants or work-study opportunities to help cut down on costs.