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VA Loan Eligibility Requirements

Millions of Veterans and service members are eligible for a VA home loan. Here's what you need to know to get started.

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To be eligible for a VA loan, you or your spouse must meet the minimum 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.

What are the requirements to get a VA loan?

You may qualify for a VA loan by meeting one or more of the following requirements:

  • You served 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime.
  • You served 181 days of active service during peacetime.
  • You have 6 years of service in the National Guard or Reserves, or served 90 days (at least 30 of them consecutively) under Title 32 orders.
  • You are the spouse of a service member who died while serving or died from a service-related disability.
Don't meet the minimum service requirements? You may still be eligible: Talk with a Home Loan Specialist today.
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If you don't meet the basic service requirements for a VA loan, you may still be eligible. In these cases, eligibility depends on the discharge type. If your discharge falls into any of the following categories, you might still qualify for a VA loan:

  • You were discharged for hardship, or at the convenience of the government, or a reduction in force.
  • You were discharged for a medical condition or service-connected disability.
  • You were discharged for early-out and served at least 21 months of a 2-year enlistment.

If you're unsure of your service status, it's best to contact a VA lender and see where you stand.

Verifying Your VA Loan Eligibility Status

Lenders need what's known as a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to verify if a Veteran meets the minimum service requirements. Your COE provides the lender with confirmation that you qualify for VA loan benefits.

For most Veterans, this is an easy step. Your lender can typically pull your COE with only your social security number and date of birth.

In some cases, the process may be more complex. However, the important piece is you don't need this document before applying for a VA loan.

Speak with a Home Loan Specialist to get your COE today. The process typically takes minutes to complete and ensures your home financing moves forward without delays.

Other Ways of Getting Your COE

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

  1. Applying through a VA approved lender
  2. Applying online through the VA's eBenefits portal
  3. Applying by mail with VA Form 26-1880

According to the VA, nearly all COE requests come electronically, and about two-thirds get issued immediately. If additional documentation is required, it's typically a DD Form 214 for regular military and the NGB Form 22 and NGB Form 23 for National Guard and Reserves.

However, this isn't always the case. See the required forms for each service type below.

Documents Your Lender May Require

Service Type Required Documents
Veteran DD Form 214 (Report of Separation)
Current or Former Activated National Guard or Reserves DD Form 214 (Report of Separation)
Active Duty Statement of Service
Current National Guard or Reserves (Never Activated) Statement of Service and an allocated points statement
Discharged National Guard (Never Activated) NGB Form 22 (Report of Separation and Record of Service) and NGB Form 23 (Retirement Points Accounting and proof of the character of service)
Discharged Reserves (Never Activated) Army Reserve: DARP Form FM 249-2E or ARPC Form 606-E
Navy Reserve: NRPC 1070-124
Air Force Reserve: AF 526
Marine Corps Reserve: NAVMC HQ509 or NAVMC 798
Coast Guard Reserve: CG 4174 or 4175
Need help determining eligibility? Speak with a trusted VA-lending specialist today

How Spouses Can Verify Their VA Loan Eligibility

Surviving spouses will also need a COE to verify eligibility and utilize their VA loan benefits. 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 apply via VA Form 21P-534EZ 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.

You can request separation paperwork from the US National Archives and Records Administration.

Surviving spouses can reach out to a Veterans United loan specialist with questions or for more details.

VA Lender Requirements

Although the VA determines the guidelines for VA loan eligibility, private lenders who finance the home typically have an additional set of requirements borrowers must satisfy. These typically include sufficient reliable income to repay the loan, acceptable levels of debt, and a credit score that meets the lender's credit requirements.

Ready to see if you're eligible for a VA loan? Start your VA loan with Veterans United and speak with a home loan specialist today.

Credit and Income

The VA does not set a minimum credit score requirement for VA loan eligibility, but lenders typically do. Because of this, VA loan credit score requirements vary by lender, with most lenders typically requiring a 620 FICO credit score to obtain financing.

In addition to credit score, the VA requires qualified Veterans to maintain a certain amount of income left over each month after paying all major expenses. The excess, known as residual income, should be enough to cover typical family needs, such as food, transportation and medical care.

By enforcing residual income requirements, the VA increases the chances of borrowers earning sufficient income to meet all financial obligations and ensures borrowers have a cushion in the event of an emergency.

Alongside residual income, lenders also consider your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. DTI and residual income give lenders a holistic look at your purchasing power and ability to qualify for a VA loan.

How to Apply for a VA Loan

Veterans and service members don't need to know if they're eligible for a VA loan to try and start the process. You'll get a good handle on your ability to secure a VA loan during the first step – loan preapproval.

The VA loan process typically takes 30 to 45 days once you're under contract on a home, although every buyer's situation is different. Applying for a VA loan doesn't obligate you in any way to a particular lender or to move forward with the homebuying process.

Here's a look at the three basic steps to applying for a VA home loan:

  1. Contact a VA Lender: First, contact a VA lender online, over the phone or in-person to start your VA loan application.
  2. Verify your VA Loan Eligibility: Obtain your Certificate of Eligibility through your lender or on your own.
  3. Complete the VA Loan Application: Finalize your loan application and provide all necessary paperwork to your lender, including W-2s, tax returns and additional financial information.

What are Veterans United's requirements for a home loan?

Veterans United typically requires a credit score minimum of 620 to qualify for a VA loan. You also need to meet ability-to-repay guidelines related to things like debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, residual income and more. Guidelines can vary based on your specific situation.

Like all VA loan lenders, Veterans United requires VA loan borrowers to have a Certificate of Eligibility (COE), and you may be required to provide other supplementary documents, such as a DD Form 214. If you're applying for a different loan type, such as a conventional or FHA loan, these service requirements don't apply.

You don't need to have these documents on-hand to get the process started, and most lenders (including Veterans United) can pull your COE for you. Speak with a Home Loan Specialist to get your COE today.

If you don't meet the credit score requirement for a VA loan with Veterans United, there are steps you can take to improve your credit score in as little as a few months. Reach out to our credit consulting program to learn more about how Veterans United can help.

Questions about whether you qualify?

Our Home Loan Specialists are available 24/7 to answer any questions you have about the VA loan program. Give us a call at 1-800-884-5560 or get started online.

Learn about the many advantages of the VA loan in our next section.

1 Our military advisors are paid employees of Veterans United Home Loans.

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