Getting a mortgage with student loans

Elizabeth Root
By Elizabeth Root

Paying off student loan debt? You’re not alone — more than 44 million Americans have student loan debt.1 If you’ve made an investment in your education and now want to make an investment in your next home, you might be wondering what your options are. At Better, we strive to make homeownership accessible and affordable for all Americans, including those with student debt. As you explore the possibility of homeownership, here are some things to keep in mind.


How will mortgage lenders consider my student debt?

The most important thing to remember is that lenders won’t be looking at how much your total student debt is, but how much you pay each month towards those loans. When lenders consider any type of debt, they’ll look at your monthly debt-to-income ratio (DTI). Your debt-to-income ratio is all your monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income. In other words, we add up payments for things like credit card debt, an auto loan payment, and your monthly student loan payment and combine that with your future mortgage payment. Then we divide that number by your gross monthly income, which is how much money you earn before taxes. (Keep in mind that if you’ve deferred your student loan payments, we’ll still have to count your future monthly student loan payments towards your DTI.)





At Better, we accept DTI up to 50% for creditworthy borrowers, but the lower your DTI, the more financing options will be available to you. If you can reduce the monthly amount you have to pay to cover your debt commitments by refinancing your student loans or paying off a credit card or two, this can help lower your DTI and increase your financing options. Additionally, if someone else is helping you with your student loan payments, say your parents or a fairy godmother has stepped in to make the payments for you, we may be able to qualify you for a mortgage without even counting your student debt payment in your DTI. Here are more tips on how to improve your DTI.


How much savings do I need to buy a home?

Odds are, your student loan payments have also impacted your ability to save, making it hard to imagine having the money for a down payment or to cover closing costs. While you might have heard that you need to put 20% down to buy a home, that’s just a myth. Better offers low down payment options starting with as little as 3% down. In fact, 72% of our buyers put less than 20% down on their homes.

There can also be upfront costs to buying a home beyond the down payment. If you don’t have enough cash to bring to closing, you may be able to roll the closing costs into your loan for a “no cost” mortgage, in exchange for a slightly higher interest rate. At Better, we don’t charge any lender or commission fees, so you won’t have to worry about paying for those additional costs if you work with us. We also have an instant mortgage discount finder that can also help you find even more opportunities to save on the upfront costs of buying a home based on how you earn and where you live.

What option is right for me?

Ultimately, if you’re shopping for a home and have student loan debt, talk to a lender to see what your best bet is. At Better, our non-commissioned Loan Consultants are always here to help guide you, regardless of where you might be in the journey to homeownership.