Check Your VA Loan Eligibility

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VA Home Loan Eligibility  

To be eligible for a VA loan, you or your spouse must meet the basic service requirements set by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), have a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE) and satisfy the lender’s credit and income requirements.

The list of eligible VA borrowers includes: 

Veterans of the US Armed Forces
Active-duty service persons
Members of the National Guard
Surviving spouses of veterans
Cadets at the U.S. Military, Air Force or Coast Guard Academy
Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy  
Officers at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration  

A minimum term of service is typically required  

VA Minimum Service Requirements  

You may be eligible for a VA loan by meeting at least one of the following requirements:

You have served 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime
You have served 181 days of active service during peacetime  
You have 6 years of service in the National Guard or Reserves  
You are the spouse of a service member who died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related disability

What If I Don’t Meet The Minimum Service Requirements?  

You may still be able to get a COE if you were discharged for one of the reasons listed below:

The convenience of the government (you must have served at least 20 months of a 2-year enlistment)
Early out (you must have served 21 months of a 2-year enlistment) 
Certain medical conditions
Reduction in force
A service-connected disability  

Obtaining A VA Loan Certificate of Eligibility (COE)  

Your COE provides the lender with evidence that you qualify for VA loan benefits.

There are three basic ways you can obtain your COE for a VA loan:

Applying through a VA approved lender  
Applying online through the VA’s eBenefits portal
Applying by mail with VA Form 26-1880  

Click here to learn more about applying for a COE

It is important to note that no one is “guaranteed” VA loan approval. 

You must still qualify for the loan based on VA mortgage guidelines. 

The “guarantee” part of the VA loan refers to the VA’s promise to the lender of repayment if the borrower defaults.

How Spouses Can Obtain A COE

Getting a COE as a surviving spouse depends on whether or not you’re receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.

Spouses receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits must fill out VA Form 26-1817 (Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility – Unmarried Surviving Spouses) and obtain a copy of the Veteran’s separation paperwork, such as a DD Form 214.

If you’re not receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits, you’ll need to fill out VA Form 21P-534EZ (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Survivors Pension and/or Accrued Benefits) and submit to your state’s VA Pension Management Center (full list here).

Additionally, you’ll need to provide a copy of your marriage license, the Veteran’s death certificate (or DD Form 1300 – Report of Casualty) and the Veteran’s separation paperwork.

Separation paperwork can be requested from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Learn how to apply for a VA home loan as a surviving spouse.

Can I Get A COE In Any Other Situation?

You may be able to get a COE if you meet at least one of the requirements listed below.

At least one of these must be true. You:

Are a U.S. citizen who served in the Armed Forces of a government allied with the United States in World War II, or
Served as a member in certain organizations, like Public Health Service officer, Cadet at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy, Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, Officer of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Merchant seaman during World War II

VA Loan Income And Credit Requirements

The VA does require borrowers to maintain a minimum amount of residual income left over each month after all documented expenses are paid to ensure there are sufficient funds to cover living and emergency expenses. 

The VA does not set a minimum credit score requirement for VA loan eligibility, however, lenders can determine their own individual requirements. 

As such, VA loan credit score requirements vary by lender with most lenders typically requiring a minimum 660 credit score.

How To Apply For A VA Loan  

Here’s a look at the four basic steps to applying for a VA Home Loan:

Familiarize yourself with the VA loan eligibility requirements listed above
Click here to get a quote and be connected with a VA-approved lender to start your VA Loan application  
Obtain your Certificate of Eligibility through your lender or on your own
Finalize your loan application and provide all necessary paperwork to your lender, including W-2s, tax returns and additional financial information

Applying for a VA loan doesn’t obligate you in any way to a particular lender or to moving forward with the homebuying process.

Last updated September 23, 2020