NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — The New York Fed's study last April found student loans were preventing many recent graduates from buying their first home. Now comes another that reaches similar conclusions. It doesn't come from the federal government, but from the home loan industry itself.

An analysis by the Mortgage Bankers Association found that loan applications for home purchases have slipped nearly 20% in the past four months compared with the same period a year earlier. It's not only more current than the Fed's findings of last year, but provides evidence of a trend.

"This is a huge issue for us," David Stevens, chief executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association told the Washington Post last week. "Student debt trumps all other consumer debt. It's going to have an extraordinary dampening effect on young peoples' ability to borrow for a home, and that's going to impact the housing market and the economy at large."

If the next generation of home buyers can't get a mortgage, that's a big problem for mortgage bankers, let alone realtors. Many who work in the mortgage industry have their own student loans to pay off and may themselves feel the blowback.

Stevens, the former assistant secretary for housing at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), does think there are positives in the housing market, but that market can be volatile, as was demonstrated by the credit freeze that began in 2007. Home prices are low for the most part—but likely to rise. Interest rates are low—but they'll definitely rise eventually. In those circumstances, student loans could continue to be a brake on the market as loans and property become more expensive.

Also last week, the New York Fed reported that student loan debt in the fourth quarter of 2013 rose more than 5% above the previous quarter, while mortgage and credit card debt each increased 2% or less. At the end of the fourth quarter, student loan debt totaled almost $1.08 trillion -- well above $683 billion in credit card debt.

The student debt burden coupled with relatively low salaries and credit scores will affect the ability of young people to qualify for a home loan, says Stevens. "Overall debt is falling but student loan debt is increasing year-over-year and at a much faster rate," he says.

"They're already on the margin for being able to qualify for a mortgage," he continues. "If you add on a large student loan debt payment of $400, $500 or $600 [a month], that's going to impact your qualifying ability to buy a home."

"First time home buyers are usually 40% to 45% of the mortgage market," Stevens adds. "Today they're close to 35% and we think that's directly correlated to student loan debt."