Do You Need a College Degree to Get a Mortgage?

A woman smiling in a college graduation cap and gown.

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College degrees can be expensive. Do you need one to buy a home?

It's often the case that workers with a college degree earn more money than those without one. And for this reason, having a college degree could indirectly help you become a homeowner.

Earnings is one of the factors that mortgage lenders look at when evaluating loan candidates, which makes sense. When a lender gives out a large sum of money, it wants reassurance it'll get repaid. The more money you earn, the easier it'll be to repay your home loan.

But if you don't have a college degree, fear not. Obtaining a degree is not a prerequisite for getting a mortgage, so not having one may not hold you back at all.

What goes into a mortgage approval?

Not having a college degree could stop you from getting a mortgage in an indirect way. If you don't have a degree, you may not qualify for certain jobs that pay the income you need to borrow the amount you want for a home.

But to be clear, mortgage lenders will not ask for a copy of your college diploma when deciding whether you qualify for a home loan. Instead, they'll look at these factors:

  • Your credit score, which measures how timely you are with bills and how reliable a borrower you are
  • Your debt-to-income ratio, which measures the amount of monthly debt you have relative to your income
  • Your salary
  • Your job history (if you're brand new to a job, you may have more trouble qualifying for a home loan than someone who's been at the same job for several years)

If you don't have a college degree but you earn enough money to get a mortgage then your lender won't care what your educational background looks like. All your lender cares about is your ability to repay your loan, and your likelihood to do so based on your borrowing history.

In fact, if you're worried about qualifying for a mortgage, don't sweat the fact that you don't have a college degree. Instead, check your credit score to see what it looks like.

You'll need a minimum score of 620 to qualify for a conventional mortgage, but some lenders will want to see a higher number than that. The higher your score, the more likely you'll be to snag a competitive interest rate on your loan.

At the same time, you may want to work on paying down debt if you have a lot of it relative to your income. Doing so will show lenders that you're not overextended and can handle a monthly mortgage payment.

What income do you need to get a mortgage?

While there is a minimum credit score requirement to get a conventional mortgage, there's no minimum income requirement. That's because the income needed to qualify for a home loan depends on the amount you're looking to borrow.

If you need to boost your income to get the loan amount you want and you don't have a college degree, you can look at getting a side job on top of your main one. That combined income should count toward getting approved, especially if your side job is one that's ongoing.

At the same time, if your earnings are holding you back from a mortgage approval, you can try saving up more money for a down payment. The less money you need to borrow, the easier it should be to get a lender on board.

Our Research Expert