First-Time Homebuyers in Maine Could See Student Debt Forgiveness
For many younger adults in Maine, buying a house seems nearly impossible. The ongoing affordable housing crisis has limited the options available to first-time home buyers, and the heavy burden of student debt prevents many people from saving enough money for a down payment. According to the Portland Press Herald, over 178,000 Maine residents (about 13.3 percent of the state population) have student loan debt, and the average Maine student graduates owing $33,500. Meanwhile, the statewide median sales price of a home is nearly $300,000.
But Maine may help to reduce that barrier in the near future. LD 1978, “An Act To Promote Home Ownership by Reducing Education Debt,” would create a Maine State Housing Authority program designed to forgive up to $40,000 in student loan debt for qualified first-time homebuyers. This is regardless of where the borrower studied or if they graduated.
“Too many of our young people who have worked hard to pursue their chosen profession – professions we desperately need – are saddled with high levels of student debt,” said Sen. Chip Curry of Waldo, lead sponsor of LD 1978. “This prevents them from purchasing their first homes and often forces them to leave Maine.”
To qualify, homebuyers must meet the income eligibility threshold that the MaineHousing’s First Home Loan Program uses and agree to live in their new home for at least five years.
Supporters of LD 1978 see the program as a means of easing the impact of student loans while also benefiting Maine’s economy:
“The situation with student debt is dire. With student loans, car payments, rent, utilities and other basic expenses, it is hard enough to make ends meet, let alone purchase a home,” said Senate President Troy Jackson. “With this program, we can make it easier for young people to create a meaningful and fulfilling life here. We’re counting on young people to fill workforce shortages, keep our heritage industries going and lead our state into the future.”
No person should be prevented from buying a home because they chose to pursue higher education. We applaud Senator Curry for introducing this incredible program and helping Maine’s young adults carve out a long-term future in our state.