Thousands of National Guard members are eligible for the VA loan program, and new legislation is expanding eligibility to even more guardsmen and women around the country.
The National Guard is the second-largest branch of the U.S. military, with more than 330,000 members nationwide. Despite these vast numbers, few guardsmen and women use their VA loan benefit — a valuable tool that can make buying a home easier and more affordable.
More than 100,000 guard members served during the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 50,000 guardsmen becoming newly eligible for the VA loan. The Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act is to thank for this newly expanded eligibility. If you or your spouse is enlisted in the National Guard, here’s what you need to know about qualifying for a VA home loan.
Yes, the national guard is eligible for a VA loan as long as they meet the necessary service requirements.
National Guard members have been eligible for VA loans for some time, but the recently passed Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act expanded those benefits. Now, according to the NGAUS, around 52,000 guardsmen and women will be newly eligible to qualify for these mortgages.
Guardsmen and Reservist VA loan eligibility are based on service. In order to be eligible for a VA loan, you must first meet the following service requirements:
Time of Service: Between Aug 2, 1990, and present
Time of Service: Any time period
Six years in the Guard or Selected Reserve and one of the following must be true to you:
In addition to meeting service requirements, National Guard applicants must also meet the below requirements for credit and income.
The Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t have set credit score requirements for VA mortgages, though individual lenders do. These vary from one company to the next, but for the most part, you can expect to need at least a 620 credit score to qualify.
Similarly, there are also no hard income requirements for VA loans. Lenders do, however, consider your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), which indicates how much of your monthly income is taken up by existing debts. You’ll generally want to have a DTI of 41% or less. A higher debt-to-income ratio could make it more difficult to qualify for a VA loan.
To apply for a VA loan, you’ll need to obtain your Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Your COE shows your eligibility for the program, as well as your maximum loan entitlement.
To obtain your COE, you’ll need to fill out a DD-214 form, get a statement of service signed by your commander, or request an NGB-22 statement for each period of service. See more details in our guide to getting your COE in the National Guard.
Generally speaking, you can expect it to take anywhere from four to six weeks to receive your COE, so make sure to plan ahead. Your VA lender can also help you apply for and obtain your COE, and it may even speed up the process.
Does the National Guard qualify for a VA loan? Absolutely. National Guardsmen and women are eligible for the VA loan benefit just as other military members are. These loans require no down payment, come with no monthly mortgage insurance, and offer low fixed interest rates.