New FHA Mortgage Guidance Will Impact Borrowers With High Student Loan Debt

Gentle Readers,

I was having dinner with Mabel recently and she had some bad news for me. The federal government has issued new guidance for FHA loans. This guidance will make it far more difficult for people with high student loan debt to qualify for a mortgage. Me. It will make it far more difficult for me to qualify for a mortgage.

The Federal Housing Administration insures mortgage lenders as a way to encourage home ownership in the US. The FHA does not issue mortgages, but mortgage lenders use the insurance to stay in business in case too many people enter foreclosure. The FHA has guidance for the type of qualifications a person must meet when applying for a loan. If you are eligible for an FHA approved loan, your down payment can be as low as 3.5% which is far more attainable than the standard 20% necessary to avoid PMI. Not all mortgages meet the qualifications for an FHA loan.

Part of what the FHA measures when determining your loan eligibility is your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.  Naturally, student debt counts as debt. However, it can be difficult to know exactly how to count this debt. Borrowers are allowed to pay back under a number of different terms and conditions. You may have a 10, 20, or 30 year schedule with or without some forgiveness of the debt itself. It’s complicated.

What concerns me today is the new rules for those of us who are paying back our student loans on an Income Based Repayment (IBR) Schedule. In IBR, you pay a percentage of your income towards your debt each month. This is not an amortizing payment. It is not intended to efficiently wipe out your debt. It is intended to give financial breathing room to people with student loan debt that is high in proportion to their income. I pay roughly $500 a month toward my student loan debt because of IBR. If I was paying an amortizing payment, I would pay closer to $1500 a month.

The FHA has new guidance for mortgages for people under IBR. If I want to use an FHA Loan, they will calculate my monthly debt obligation in a new way now. They no longer consider what my IBR obligation will be each month, which makes sense as the IBR changes yearly based on last year’s income.

The pertinent changes:

FHA 4000.1 Section II. A. 4. B. (H)

(4)  Calculation of Monthly Obligation
Regardless of the payment status, the Mortgagee must use either:

  • the greater of:
    • 1 percent of the outstanding balance on the loan; or
    • the monthly payment reported on the Borrower’s credit report; or
    • the actual documented payment, provided the payment will fully amortize the loan over its term.

What this means for me personally at my current student loan debt levels is that I will likely be ineligible for an FHA loan.

  • If my student debt obligation was calculated as it is now incurred, it would be $500/ month.
  • If my student debt obligation was calculated at 1% of the loan balance it would be $1450/month.
  • If my student debt obligation was calculated as if I were in the process of fully amortizing my loan over a 30 year term, it would be $936/month.

These are very different debt calculations and will absolutely impact my ability to get a loan. The difference between $500 and nearly $1500 will be a killer on my DTI ratio, which must be under 43% in order to qualify for any loan.

If I make $4000 a month, and have a $1500 a month student debt payment and $650 in other obligations, I would have a DTI of 2150:4000. Over 43%.

If I make $4000 a month, and have $500/m student debt payment and $650 in other obligations, my DTI would be 1150:4000. Under 43%

This change is literally the difference between getting a home and not.

With an income of $4000 per month, the highest my debt obligation could be and still leave me eligible for a mortgage is $1720.  After subtracting my other obligations, I would need my other student loan obligation to be less than $1070/m.

To get to $1000 a month in student loan debt obligation, I would need to reduce my student loans to $100,000 from their current high of roughly $145,000.  Alternatively, I could attempt to  increase my earnings to $5000/m and then my 2150:5000 DTI would be 43%.

So, plans must change. I have to kill my student debt.

Previously, my plan of action for when my income doubles was to increase my investment payments at a far greater rate than paying down my student loan debt since I wanted to get the magic of compounding going. My new plan must be to reduce my debt obligation significantly.

When the income doubles, if I make $8000/m, at least $5000 needs to go towards student debt. I have two student loans. One of them is roughly $45000 currently. I will focus all extra payments on that one. In nine months of focused payments, that debt will be almost wiped out.

I would still be left with a student loan obligation that is roughly $100K. 1% of 100,000 is $1000. If I had that $1000 plus $650 in other obligations against an income of $8000/m, my DTI would be 1650:8000. I would be eligible for a loan. With a doubled income, the highest DTI I could have and still be eligible for a loan would be 3440:8000.

Has governmental guidance ever changed your plans in a major way?

 

 

Net Worth Week 3

Gentle Readers,

My tracking of my Net Worth is going strong. There has not been much visible progress, and my IRA had a more volatile week than normal due to being readjusted last weekend. It will be interesting acclimating to my increased volatility. I trust that it will be worth it to Future ZJ, and I like her.

This week began with a panic at my small business. The timing of my deposits and my expenditures was off and I got a notice on Monday morning to that effect. I worried that I would have to use personal funds to cover next month’s expenses. Thankfully, that did not happen this time. My business got hit with a penalty, but it did not drain everything it has.

I am proud that I have successfully kept the balance off of two of my three credit cards, but the Rewards Card balance still grows. I put all of my life expenses on it (utilities, health insurance, food, alcohol, dates with TBO etc). I am not yet willing to go entirely frugal, but I need to reduce my alcohol in public consumption. Spending time with TBO and my friends usually involves food in public, because living in a city involves being far away from each other’s homes. Spending those meals with people I love helps to maintain my heart and friendships. It is good for me. Spending time in public and, also money, is  good for professional networking; people who’ve never met me are less likely to refer individuals to my business.  This spending may not be good for my current bank balance, but I anticipate that it will be worth it in the long run. It is also just fun.

This week’s paycheck is devoted to my student loan payments and my Earnest loan, but they won’t auto-debit until next week.

It’s fascinating to watch my negative net worth change by .99 and -1.0% every week.

Date 4/8/16 4/15/2016 4/24/2016 4/29/2016
Joy 1097 1097 1097 1097
Travel 322 322 322 322
Down Payment  18 18 18 18
retirement  21 21 21 21
health  45 45 45 45
Moving  31 31 31 31
EF  9 9 9 9
Business  1 1 1 1
Bed  .29 0.29 0.29 0.29
Life  1066 907 963  1097
IRA  6885 7026 7100  7045
Brokerage  217 221 222  219
CC (largest)  -983 0 0 0
CC (longest)  0 0 0 0
Rewards Card  -2850 -3000 -3060  -3558
SL 1  -101791  -101892 -102041 -102123
SL 2  -44970  -45001 -45046 -45072
Earnest  -10009 -10036 -10054 -10078
–$150,890 -$150,230 -$150471 -$150079
  .99% change .99% change -1.0% change   .99% change

How’s your progress coming?