Can I Buy A House When I’m Paying Off A Student Loan?

Q: I graduated college with a huge student loan debt. Since then, I’ve landed a decent jobfamily in front of home and I’ve been making steady payments toward paying down my loan. Is it possible for me to buy a house while I’m still paying off this debt?

A: Student loan debt that is managed responsibly should not hold you back from purchasing a house. There are several important factors to consider before making this choice and steps you’ll want to take before you start house-hunting.

Are you really ready to buy a house?

Before you take a look at your finances to determine if you can pull off this purchase, make sure this goal is in your best interest.

For starters, do you really know which city or neighborhood you’d like to live in at this point in your life? You are likely just starting out in your career and you might be better off with the flexibility that comes with renting. This way, if an excellent employment opportunity requiring a move arises, you’ll be free to accept it. You also may or may not have settled down in terms of a life partner. It generally does not pay to buy a home you’ll only live in for a few years before selling.

Next, think about the financial ramifications of this purchase. Are you really comfortable taking on another huge loan right now? Also, you will likely have to live with a bare-bones budget to meet your mortgage payments without neglecting your student loan debt. Do you really want to live with a no-frills spending plan in the foreseeable future?

Consider these questions carefully before making your decision.

Getting started: Boost your credit

Once you’ve determined if it would be beneficial for you to purchase a home right now, you’ll want to start improving your credit. Your credit wellness is the primary factor that home lenders consider when deciding if you’re eligible for a mortgage. It also figures into the rate they will offer you.

Here are some ways you can boost your credit score in the months leading up to your mortgage application:

  • Pay all your bills on time. Set up automatic payments to make it effortless.
  • Keep your credit utilization at less than 30 percent.
  • Pay your credit card bills in full, and before they’re due.
  • Don’t close old accounts or open new cards. You want your credit history to be lengthy, and both of these steps can significantly bring down your average.

How high is your DTI?

Lots of young college graduates think it’s impossible, or difficult, to obtain a mortgage when carrying student loan debt. In fact, a 2018 Student Loan Hero survey found that 43% of college-educated Americans with student loans postponed buying a home because of their student debt.

Lucky for you, there is very little truth to this concern. As mentioned above, a student loan that is handled well should not be a deterrent to getting a mortgage. To make sure you’re managing your student debt responsibly, set up automatic monthly payments on your loan so you never miss a payment or a due date.

In addition, make an effort to pay your student loan back as quickly as possible so it doesn’t reflect badly on your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Since taking out a mortgage means accepting more debt, lenders are careful to check that you aren’t carrying too much other debt. Ideally, your total debt payments, including your mortgage, should account for less than 36 percent of your income.

If your DTI is on the high side, you may not be eligible for a mortgage just yet. Consider refinancing your student loan to a loan with lower interest rates so you can pay it off sooner and then apply for a mortgage when your DTI improves. You can also look for ways to increase your income to tilt your debt ratio in your favor.

If you’re carrying any other debt, such as credit card debt, you’ll want to pay it down as quickly as possible as well.

Determine how much house you can afford

Before you start shopping for a home, find out how much house you can actually afford. The best way to obtain this information is by applying for a pre-approval from a home lender. This will tell you exactly how high you can go while showing sellers that you’re serious about buying.

If you won’t need your pre-approval just yet, but you’d like an idea of how much you’ll need to save for a down payment, you can use an onlineĀ mortgage calculator to get your magic number.

Start saving for a down payment

Once you have your numbers worked out, you’ll need to save up for a down payment. Trim your budget in any way you can and look for side hustles to boost your income and make saving simple. Then, set up an automatic monthly transfer to your [credit_union] Savings Account so your money can grow while you sleep.

At this point, you may want to look into a local down-payment assistance program or a federal loan program, such as an FHA loan, which only requires a down payment of 3.5 percent. If you live in a rural area, you might qualify for a USDA loan, and if you’ve served in the military, you’re likely eligible for a VA loan.

When you’re ready to take this step forward, call, click, or stop by Destinations Credit Union to find out about our home loans. Our fantastic rates and hassle-free pre-approval process make a Destinations home loan an excellent choice!

Your Turn: Do you think it’s a good idea for college graduates to buy a house while they’re paying off a student loan? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.investopedia.com/personal-finance/save-down-payment-or-pay-student-loans/

https://www.cgsnet.org/ckfinder/userfiles/files/Denied-The-Impact-of-Student-Debt-on-the-Ability-to-Buy-a-House-8_14_12.pdf
https://studentloanhero.com/featured/student-loans-buying-house/
https://www.thebalance.com/rachel-morgan-cautero-4155623

Student Loan Scams

College students, take note! If keeping up with your coursework, acing your exams andPiggy bank with the words student loan written on it scrambling to hand in every term paper before the deadline weren’t enough, you now have something else to worry about: Student loan scams are on the rise. Scammers know you hate owing tens of thousands of dollars, so they’re quick to offer you an easy — but completely bogus — way to free yourself from that debt. Or, they might falsely claim you owe the feds taxes on your debt. If you’re already stressed about your student loans, that makes you an easy target.

Don’t get scammed! All it takes is a lack of knowledge and a small blunder to be out thousands of dollars.

Here’s what you need to know about the three most popular student loan scams.

1.) Student loan forgiveness scam

In this scam, a student loan debt company will reach out to you and offer to completely forgive your student loan for a relatively small fee.

Your student loan, gone? Sounds like a dream! Unfortunately, it’s more like a nightmare. No student loan company would completely forgive your loan, even for a fee. The company is likely bogus and you’ve been targeted for a scam.

This scam attempts authenticity by sounding like Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a legitimate federal government program for public servants with federal student loans. They may even claim to be connected to the U.S. Department of Education, but that is also false. If you fall for the scam, you’ll still need to pay off your loan, plus you’ll lose the money you just shelled out.

If you’re looking for student loan debt relief for your federal student loan, consider enrolling in a no-cost student loan repayment plan through the federal government. This plan might offer student loan forgiveness after 20-25 years. Unfortunately, there is no other way for a student loan to be dismissed.

2.) Student loan consolidation scam

In a scenario similar to the above scam, a student loan company will contact you promising to consolidate your loan and lower your monthly payments, all for a modest fee.

Right off the bat, you can peg this as a scam. While many institutions can refinance student loan debt, the federal government is the only entity with the power to consolidate it. And they won’t charge a fee for this service.

If you’re looking to consolidate your student loans, check out Studentloans.gov or call 1-800-557-7394.

3.) Student loan tax scam

Those tax scammers will try everything to hook a victim! In this con, a scammer will spoof the IRS’s toll-free number and call a college student, claiming they owe thousands of dollars for a “federal student loan tax.” The scammer will demand immediate payment upon threat of arrest or a lawsuit. They’ll also claim to only accept specific forms of payment, like a wire transfer or prepaid debit card.

If you’re on the receiving end of a phone call like this and you’re starting to panic, here’s a newsflash for you: the “federal student loan tax” does not exist. It is nothing more than a not-so-clever trick dreamed up by a crooked scammer.

Also, the IRS will never reach out to you by phone without first notifying you via snail mail. Nor will they demand payment over the phone or insist on a specific payment method – especially a prepaid gift card.

If you’re targeted

If you’re targeted by a student loan scam, it’s crucial that you don’t engage with the scammer. Hang up as soon as you recognize a scam and delete any suspicious emails about your student loan that land in your inbox.

It’s equally important for you to bring the scam to the attention of the authorities to help them capture those scammers. You can file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov, alert the local law enforcement agencies, and report any tax-related scams to the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or at IRS.gov. Finally, be sure to warn your friends about a circulating scam so they know to be super-careful.

Practicing caution and knowing what to expect will protect you from scammers who are out to make a buck off anyone they can bamboozle. You work hard in school; you deserve to keep your money and your sanity, too!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a student loan scam? Share the pointers you picked up from your experience with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://typicalstudent.org/hot/your-money/3-popular-student-loan-scams-2019

https://thecollegeinvestor.com/317/top-student-loan-scams/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/01/21/student-loans-scams/amp/