New program encourages recent college grads to buy a home and stay in Delaware

If you're a recent college graduate in Delaware or know someone who is, the state is offering a program to make it easier for grads to buy a home - even if they face years of paying back their student loans.

Homes for Grads was introduced Thursday in Dover by the Delaware State Housing Authority and Governor John Carney. It offers discounted rates on down payment assistance loans for buyers who've obtained a four-year degree or higher in the last three years.

"I think it's an innovation that we need to attract college graduates to Delaware and to keep them here," Carney said.

"The Homes for Grads program will help us reach this recent college graduate population who may be struggling with student debt and facing other barriers to home ownership," DSHA Director Anas Ben Addi said. "The program will make the home-buying process easy and affordable for those who have just completed their college education."

Buyers would have to meet income and credit guidelines to qualify for a Home for Grads loan. The DSHA makes financial coaching available to potential buyers who do not yet meet the minimum credit score requirement of 620.

The agency is making an initial commitment of $10 million, and Discover Bank is offering support as well. 

Wesley College President Robert Clark and Delaware State University Provost Tony Allen said they are encouraged about the prospects of keeping more graduates in Delaware and contributing to the economy and to society.

"Over 50 percent of our students are from Delaware, which we're really proud of. More so, we've been proud that over 80 percent of our graduates stay here," Clark said. Of the program, he said it's "a win-win for the college, our city and our state."

"I will tell you that Delaware State University believes in Delaware strongly. That's a part of our mission," Allen said. 

Participating lenders such as Guaranteed Rate will be involved in Homes for Grads.

"We're trying to make it exciting to be back in Delaware, to stay in Delaware, to plant your roots," Guaranteed Rate Vice President of Mortgage Lending Tracy Chongling said. "Any way we can do that and by opening up an opportunity for more and more individuals to get into home ownership, that's going to be key to the state."