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Updated for 2020

To get a VA loan, you must meet the VA loan eligibility requirements.

Wondering if you're eligible for a VA loan? If you meet all of the requirements covered below, you likely qualify.

Start with your Certificate of Eligibility

Your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is the first step in confirming whether or not you can qualify for a VA loan. It verifies that you meet the VA's minimum service requirement, and it also indicates how much entitlement you have.

How do I get my COE?

There are a few ways to get your COE, but the easiest and fastest is to have your lender get it for you. Though you can request it yourself online or via mail, it only takes minutes for your lender to do it. And don't worry—you won't be obligated to work with them just cause they've helped you get it.

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What are the service requirements?

Basically, if you served in the military, there's a pretty good chance your service qualifies, as long as you served enough time during an approved time period. The three most common eligibility categories that apply to most veterans are:

  • 90 total days of active duty service during wartime
  • 181 consecutive days of active duty service during peacetime
  • 6 years of service in the National Guard or Reserves

However, there are some additional service length requirements for specific periods of time. You can view the whole list on the VA's website.

Are there any exemptions?

Some former servicemembers may still qualify for a VA loan, even if they don't meet any of the above requirements. These exemptions are only granted if you were discharged because of:

  • Service-connected disability
  • Certain medical conditions
  • Hardship
  • Reduction in force
  • Early out (where you served at least 21 months of a 2-year enlistment)
  • The convenience of the government (but you served at least 20 months of a 2-year enlistment)

Other eligibility requirements

From the VA:

  • Allowed income
  • Residual income
  • Debt-to-income ratio
  • Occupancy

From lenders:

  • Employment history
  • Income levels
  • Credit score*

*While the VA doesn't have a minimum credit score requirement, a lot of lenders set their own. This is called a lender overlay. While Low VA Rates doesn't normally use overlays, the coronavirus pandemic has affected the market in such a way that we currently do require a 600 minimum FICO score.

Is anyone else eligible?

Spouses of Veterans

A veteran's or servicemember's spouse may receive VA loan benefits if they do not remarry before 57 and if the veteran:

  • Died in service or from a service-related disability
  • Was totally disabled (even if the disability didn't cause death)
  • Is missing in action (MIA) or a prisoner of war (POW)

Other Service Organizations

Those who have served in other organizations may also qualify. These include:

  • Public Health Service officers
  • National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration officers
  • WWII merchant seaman
  • US Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy cadets
  • US Naval Academy midshipmen

How do I get started?

Call our expert VA loan officers to request your COE: (866) 569-8272.

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