(Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

The $1.4 trillion of student loan debt carried by Americans is a drag on the economy in numerous ways.

A recent study by the National Association of Realtors and the nonprofit America Student Assistance agency found that student loan debt is delaying homeownership for millennials by an estimated seven years.

Millennials include the age range when people typically marry, have children and buy a house, yet this study found that the burden of student loans is driving them to delay financial and personal decisions that could have a long-term impact on their wealth building and personal happiness.

The student loan debt report found that only 20 percent of millennials currently own a home. Millennials are typically carrying a student debt load of $41,200, which is more than their annual income of $38,800. The millennials in the survey who don’t own a home said that their student loan debt impacted their ability to buy a home.

The median expected delay is seven years and 84 percent expect to postpone homeownership for at least three years.

Student loan debt impacts millennials’ ability to save for a down payment and makes them less financially secure. Most lenders want borrowers to have a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 42 percent, which compares your minimum payment on all debt and with your gross monthly income. Student loan payments can negatively impact that ratio.

The survey found that 86 percent of millennials have made sacrifices in their career, such as taking a second job, staying in a job that made them unhappy or taking a job outside their field to make their student loan debt sustainable.

More than half have delayed continuing their education and starting a family and 41 percent are delaying marriage because of their debt.

In addition, 61 percent of those surveyed said they had been unable to make a contribution to their retirement.

For the full survey, click here.

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