FHFA Examines Housing Affordability vs. Education Opportunities

A new FHFA working paper, “Does Residential Location Affect Applications to Top Public Schools?” examined the relationship between school access and proximity to schools and housing options, and found what you might guess: students have a tipping point in terms of commute time as distance was the deciding factor over “educational prestige.”

The study, conducted by Lawrence Costa, Senior Economist, Division of Research and Statistics for the FHFA, showed the importance on housing’s proximity to learning institutions. If a family cannot afford to live near good schools, their children could be effectively shut out of them.

At a certain point, the FHFA found, even some of the best public schools in the state were not worth the travel. A longer commute lowered the chance that a student would even apply to a school. One dataset showed that a student was 74% more likely to apply to a school in closer proximity to their home than an equivalent student who lived farther away.

The FHFA posited that because the students polled all lived in New York City, which has an extensive public transport system, they would be more willing to travel for classes. But, as the blog put it, “transportation is a huge disincentive”.

The FHFA used student-level data from New York and information from Google directions to determine how likely a student was willing to apply to an elite school vs. commute time.

“The ability to commute to good schools is not a substitute for residential access to good neighborhoods,” said Costa in the report. “Many students are not willing to even apply to top schools when they are not close to home.”

Click here to view the full FHFA report, “Does Residential Location Affect Applications to Top Public Schools?

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Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 25-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, most recently serving as Editor-in-Chief for National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He graduated from the New York Institute of Technology, where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books, and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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