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VA Home Loan Eligibility Requirements

By having a solid understanding of your VA loan eligibility, you are able to find the loan that benefits you the best.

Published on January 11, 2021

VA loans come with big benefits — things like low-interest rates, endless loan limits, and no hard credit score requirements. You don’t even need a down payment.

But these loans are strictly reserved for active-duty military members, Veterans, and their surviving spouses. In some cases, members of the Reserves and National Guard can also qualify.

Want to know if you’re eligible for these affordable loans? Here’s what you need to know.

Service Requirements for a VA Home Loan

Not all current and former military members can qualify for a VA loan. To be eligible, you have to meet certain service requirements first.

Here’s how those break down:

  • At least 90 days of consecutive service during wartime OR
  • At least 181 days of consecutive service during peacetime OR
  • At least six years of service in the National Guard or Reserves

Surviving spouses of Veterans, Prisoners of War, those missing in action may also be eligible in many cases.

How a Military Discharge Can Affect Your VA Loan Eligibility

In addition to meeting the service requirements noted above, you’ll also need an acceptable discharge status to qualify for a VA loan. These include Honorable (HON), Under Honorable Conditions (UHC), and General (GEN).

If you don’t meet these requirements but were discharged due to hardship, early out, reduction in force, the convenience of the government, certain medical conditions, or a service-related disability, you might also be able to qualify as long as you’ve served at least 90 days.

In the event your discharge was Other Than Honorable (OTH) or Bad Conduct, you’ll need to apply for a discharge upgrade and go through the VA Character of Discharge review process with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Certificate of Eligibility

You can prove you meet VA loan requirements by applying for a Certificate of Eligibility — or COE. This document tells lenders about your service and loan entitlement and ensures that you meet the most basic requirements of the VA loan program.

A VA COE is required to apply for any VA loan, and you can either retrieve yours yourself (using the eBenefits portal) or let your mortgage lender request the document for you. VA-approved lenders can use the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Web LGY portal to pull COEs directly on buyers’ behalf.

There is, however, a limit to your loan entitlement — or how much the VA will guarantee. Fortunately, once you sell a home and pay off the VA loan attached to it, your entitlement resets and can be used for a new piece of property.

Can I Get a VA COE if My Spouse is Deceased?

If you’re the surviving spouse of a military Veteran, you may be able to get a COE and qualify for a home loan as well. To be eligible, you can’t have remarried, and your spouse must have died in service or due to a service-connected disability. If your spouse is missing in action or a Prisoner of War, this may also qualify you.

Does My VA Loan Eligibility Ever Expire?

No, as long as you meet the qualifying service requirements, your VA loan benefits never expire. You can use them on your first home purchase and any subsequent home purchases after that.

There is, however, a limit to your loan entitlement — or how much the VA will guarantee. Fortunately, once you sell a home and pay off the VA loan attached to it, your entitlement resets and can be used for a new piece of property.

VA Loan Income Requirements

According to VA loan guidelines, you need a DTI — or debt-to-income ratio — of 41% or less. This means that your monthly debts, including your new VA mortgage payment, account for no more than 41% of your monthly income.

There are no hard-and-fast credit score requirements for a VA loan. These are set at the lender level, so they vary depending on what mortgage company you choose. You can generally expect to need at least a 640 to qualify.

Our Lender
Veterans United Home Loans is a VA approved lender; Mortgage Research Center, LLC – NMLS #1907 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Not affiliated with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs or any government agency. Not available in NV or NY. 1400 Veterans United Dr., Columbia, MO 65203. Equal Housing Lender