What you do is you talk to the loan officer at a bank. He will have you fill out some forms, and based off your employment, credit, an other factors give you an approximate amount you are "pre-approved" for on a loan. That way the real estate agent has an idea of what price range you can buy into.
If you live in a rural area, and aren't sure if you can afford a standard loan trying talking to USDA-Rural Development. I did their "Direct" loan and they subsidize some of the interest on the loan for me. I have to pay it back eventually but it makes the payment on my house lower so I can afford it now, and I didn't have to pay a deposit or anything. All closing cost where rolled into the loan.
If you do the USDA loans you have to go through a first time home buyer class. Its one 8hr class, and cost like ~$20, but even if you don't do the USDA loan I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you take it. I think EVERYONE should take the class before buying a house. It answered just about every questions I had about home buying.
A lender is by definition, someone who can contribute/grant/give something on the condition that it will be returned. I'm not sure about your question about Pre-qualified loans, you might try going to a bank. They will inform you on your home loan inquiries.
the real estate agent said to contact a lender to help me get pre qualified for a loan.
Qualified as in you will be able to get it.
where at school? for the class