Student loan debt can cause a lot of financial stress, especially when you’re getting ready to buy a house for the first time. If you’ve got a steady job and a good handle on your monthly expenses, becoming a first-time homeowner is within reach.
So if you feel overwhelmed by your student loans, you’re not alone. A lot of first-time homebuyers wonder how they’ll qualify for a mortgage with student loan debt.
So You Want to Buy a House? Don’t Let Student Loan Debt Stop You.
This article will explain how student loans affect your home loan eligibility and how to qualify for a mortgage. Specifically, how to apply for a mortgage and get a home loan while you’re still paying off your student loan debt.
Let’s dig in.
Three Factors That Affect Your Eligibility When You Apply for a Mortgage
1. Debt to Income Ratio (DTI)
Your debt-to-income ratio impacts your buying power the most. Lenders compare your gross monthly income against your monthly debt obligations to determine how much you can afford to borrow. A DTI ratio higher than 43% can make it difficult to qualify. But there are select options for borrowers with student loan debt.
2. Credit Score
A good credit score will get you a better home loan and a lower mortgage rate. But there are also special programs available for first-time homebuyers who have a lower credit score. Check out your credit report for free here.
3. Down Payment
A larger down payment can often lock in a better rate and a more affordable mortgage payment. Ask your mortgage advisor about using investment stocks, retirement funds, gift funds, or borrowing from other sources.
Home Loan Opportunities for Borrowers With Student Loan Debt
- Conventional Loan: 3% down payment, debt-to-income ratio < 43%
- FHA Loan: 3.5% down payment, debt-to-income ratio < 50%
- Fannie Mae HomeReady Mortgage: 3% down payment, debt-to-income ratio < 50%
- VA Loan: 0% down payment, debt-to-income ratio < 41%
Let’s Talk About Debt-to-Income Ratios and Mortgage Applications
When you apply for a mortgage, your debt-to-income ratio directly impacts your eligibility.
Why? Lenders compare your total monthly income with your monthly debt repayments to determine how much you can afford. If your monthly debt payments are higher than 40% of your pre-tax income, it won’t be easy to qualify.
This is where student loan payments make a significant impact.
Student loan payments are automatically included in your monthly debt balance, so they directly affect how much you can afford for a home loan. Since there are different student loan repayment programs, the structure of your specific student loan payment plan can make a big difference.
First, let’s look at how debt-to-income ratios are calculated. Then you can decide whether or not it’s a smart idea to restructure your student loan debt.
How to Calculate Your Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI)
Figuring out your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is easy. Write down your gross monthly income, then make a list of all your recurring monthly payments.
Leave out expenses that vary each month, such as utility bills, entertainment, groceries, transportation, etc.
To calculate your DTI, combine your required monthly payments such as:
- Monthly rent or mortgage payment
- Student loan payment
- Minimum credit card payment
- Monthly car payment
- Any court-ordered payments (child support, back taxes, etc.)
Example: Calculating Your Debt-to-Income Ratio with Student Loans
For example, if your gross monthly income is $6,000, then 43% would be $2,580. This is the maximum amount a lender would approve for a monthly mortgage payment for a conventional loan.
Next, it’s time to substract your monthly debt repayments. For example:
- Monthly car payment = $200
- Credit card payment = $135
- Student loan payment = $250
In this scenario, your monthly debt repayment would be $585. From the lender’s perspective, this means you have $1,995 available to make a monthly mortgage payment ($2,580 – $585 = $1,995.)
Note that your new monthly payment will need to cover your mortgage payment, homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, and mortgage insurance if required.
How Different Student Loan Repayment Programs Affect Your Mortgage Application
Restructuring your student loans can help lower your debt-to-income ratio and be a better option than paying off your student loans.
Why? To apply for a mortgage, you’ll want to have a down payment ready as well as emergency funds. So you don’t want to deplete your savings to pay off your student loans.
If your monthly student loan payment is high, you might consider restructuring your student loan debt so that you can lower your monthly payment. This will help lower your DTI.
Contact the institution that handles your student loan debt and ask about the following options:
- standard repayment plan
- deferred student loan
- income-driven payment plan
- graduated payment plan
Takeaway: Don’t Let Student Loans Keep You From Buying a House
Buying your first home might be closer than you think, even while you’re paying off student loans. And several loan programs can work to your advantage, especially as a first-time homebuyer.
Plan for your down payment, find out your credit score and calculate your debt-to-income ratio. Once you have a clear financial picture, you can consider restructuring your student debt to lower your DTI ratio.
Working together early on can help navigate your best options. If you’d like to understand how your student loans will impact your mortgage application, let’s connect. We’d love to help.