The average student loan debt has risen to over $30,000, yet with graduation comes dreams of securing a great career and owning a nice home. There are millions of Millennials (those born in early 1980s into the early 2000s) who are eager to get their life after college started.

In a study by loanDepot, a top mortgage lender in the United States discovered more than one third of these Millennials have set their sights on obtaining a mortgage within the next five years. The big question is how are they going to accomplish this with their college student loan debt shadowing them?

Lenders will tell you the criteria to buy a home depends not only your credit, but your debt-to-income ratio and it is this which will make it difficult to qualify for a loan. They examine the monthly cost you pay to service your debt, not you total debt burden. The LoanDepot analysis showed that in order to qualify for a home mortgage, a person needs to reduce the monthly debt payments between $150 and $300. Even the smallest changes in the size of the applicant’s monthly debt payments can be enough to get a loan approved.

Let’s look at the 7 steps you can take to get closer to owning your first home:

1. Decrease your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio

2. Fix or improve your credit score (FICO)

3. Reduce your debt

4. Sacrifice your lifestyle

5. Stay employed at your job

6. Get Pre-Approved so you know where you stand

7. Check out all the homeowner’s programs available both federal and private