Who Is Eligible For a VA Loan?
Eligibility is one of the topics that is most frequently asked about in the VA loan program. The rules for VA loan eligibility fall into three categories: active duty servicemembers or veterans, National Guard/Reservists, and surviving spouses. There are different service requirements for those who served or are serving in active duty and those who served in the Guard/Reserve, and the requirements for active duty servicemembers differ depending on the time period in which they served. The VA offers a comprehensive table that is easy to read and see what the service requirements are for the time period you have served.
|Status||Qualifying Wartime & Peacetime Periods||Qualifying Active Duty Dates||Minimum Active Duty Service Requirement|
|Veteran||WWII||9/16/1940 – 7/25/1947||90 total days|
|Post-WWII||7/26/1947 – 6/26/1950||181 continuous days|
|Korean War||6/27/1950 – 1/31/1955||90 total days|
|Post-Korean War||2/1/1955 – 8/4/1964||181 continuous days|
|Vietnam War||8/5/1964 – 5/7/1975 *For Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam, the beginning date is 2/28/1961||90 total days|
|Post-Vietnam War||5/8/1975 – 9/7/1980 *The ending date for officers is 10/16/1981||181 continuous days|
|24-month rule||9/8/1980 – 8/1/1990 *The beginning date for officers is 10/17/1981||24 continuous months, ORThe full period (at least 181 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty|
|Gulf War||8/2/1990 – Present||24 continuous months, ORThe full period (at least 90 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty|
|Currently On Active Duty||Any||Any||90 continuous days|
|National Guard & Reserve Member||Gulf War||8/2/1990 – Present||90 days of active service|
|Six years of service in the Selected Reserve or National Guard, ANDWere discharged honorably, OR
Were placed on the retired list, OR
Were transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable, OR
Continue to serve in the Selected Reserve
To find out if you are eligible for a VA loan, just take a look at the table above and see what the requirements are for your service period. Even if you didn’t serve for long enough, you still might be eligible if you were discharged due to hardship, the convenience of the government, reduction-in-force, certain medical conditions, or a service-connected disability. If you are eligible for the VA loan program, the first step you’ll need to take is to get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE). You can obtain your COE on your own if you want, but it’s usually easier to work through a lender to get it. The COE will show how much “entitlement” you have. Entitlement refers to the maximum amount that the VA will guarantee on your behalf. Speak with a VA-approved lender for more details on that, and how you can purchase a home that is more expensive than you can buy with just your entitlement.
You may have noticed that surviving spouses are not on the above table. Spouses of those who died in the line of duty or from a service-connected disability can be eligible for the VA loan program as well. If you are eligible for DIC, then you are eligible for the VA loan program. If you are eligible or aren’t sure, it’s best to get started by speaking with a VA-approved lender, who can walk you through all of the steps to get a VA loan. If you have remarried, you may no longer be eligible.
Remember that being eligible for the VA loan program is not the same thing as being approved for the loan – it is possible to be eligible for the VA loan program but not qualified for a loan. Qualifying for a loan involves passing a credit check and having sufficient income and stable employment, and if you can’t qualify for a VA loan, no lender is obligated to approve you for one. Make sure to be prepared to apply for your VA loan by paying off any debts, establishing a consistent, reliable income, and improving your credit score.