Paying student debt should not prohibit you from becoming a homeowner.

Student debt, however, may be one of the reasons why so many millennials have been left behind when it comes to homeownership. For some, it’s enough to hold them back from entering the real estate market as they face higher debt-to-income ratios and less flexibility to save for a down payment.

These two major roadblocks to getting approved for a loan can be overcome, however, and here is how.

Get pre-approved first
Shopping for a home is a blast, but get your ducks in a row by first getting a pre-approval.

Doing so is like receiving a financial roadmap that reveals how much home you can afford so you can stay on budget. It’ll also give you a good idea of how much it’ll cost to finance your home, information that will help you make other important decisions.

And most of all, it’ll signal to sellers that you’re ready to buy because you already have a lender who’s willing to underwrite your loan.

Getting a pre-approval involves gathering information about your income, debt, previous residences, employment and other financial particulars.

Research first-time homebuyer loan programs
Help is available to those on the cusp of realizing their dream of owning a home.

From community grants to federal government programs that offer down payment assistance, a little research and perseverance can uncover the assistance you need to get across the finish line.

Work on your credit score
A large piece to the mortgage application puzzle is your credit score.

In a nutshell, this information gives the lender insights regarding your creditworthiness.

Working on improving your score can pay huge dividends in landing a loan program that meets your financial goals.

To improve your credit effectively, focus on your credit utilization rate, which indicates how much credit is in use. Other steps include paying on time, keeping paid-off accounts open and not opening unnecessary credit lines.

And also be sure to check your credit score as often as you can, look for errors, improper use of your identity and track your credit score progress.

Down payment assistance
It’s understandable if you’re having a difficult time saving up for a down payment as you race to address college debt.

Several assistance programs can cover your down payment and closing costs. One form of this assistance is a down payment grant. It is interest-free and need not be repaid.

A forgivable second mortgage, traditional second mortgage, and match savings programs are other possible tools at your disposal.

In order to qualify, you may need to be a first-time homebuyer, enroll in a homebuyer education class, earn under a certain amount of money and commit to a certain level of savings each month.

Work on your debt-to-income ratio
This ratio is perhaps the most important number a lender will consider when evaluating your application.

The last thing they will do is offer a loan with monthly payments that exceed your financial capacity.

To improve this ratio, you can start by paying down debt. The sooner you can whittle down student debt and other credit obligations, the better. You can speed up repayment by using your tax return, bonus money and other income sources outside your salary.

Other ways to improve your debt-to-income ratio is by increasing your income, refinancing or consolidating student loans and enrolling in an income-based repayment plan.