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Lesson 4.2

VA Loan Eligibility

 
Chris Birk | Author of "The Book on VA Loans"

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Eligibility Requirements

Being eligible for a VA loan and ultimately being able to get one are two different things. But you can’t be in position to take advantage of this historic program’s big-time benefits if you don’t meet the VA’s service requirements.

Potential homebuyers are usually eligible for a VA home loan if they’ve met one of the following service requirements:

  • 90 consecutive days of active duty service during war time
  • 181 consecutive days of active duty service during peacetime
  • 6 years of service in the Reserves or National Guard
  • You’re the surviving spouse of a veteran killed in the line of duty or who died of a service-connected disability

Those are the broad, basic outlines for VA loan eligibility. There are other service circumstances and situations that can lead to being eligible for this benefit. Only the VA can determine whether you meet the requirements and have access to this loan program.

Certificate of Eligibility

Even if you’re positive you meet the eligibility requirements, there’s only one way to be sure – the Certificate of Eligibility. This critical VA document formally attests to your ability to utilize the VA loan benefit. You can’t get a VA home loan without one.

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But you don’t actually need your COE in hand to start the loan process. In fact, you don’t even need to know if you’re eligible for a VA loan.

Eligibility is something lenders will help you assess at the outset. They’ll also look to obtain your COE on your behalf during the loan preapproval process. To be sure, you’re more than welcome to get your Certificate of Eligibility on your own. Many borrowers can get it through the VA’s eBenefits portal. You can even fill out a VA form and get your COE in the mail.

The bottom line is don’t let questions about your eligibility keep you from talking to a loan officer about your VA loan benefits.