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(Updated) VA Loan Eligibility for National Guard and Reserve

National Guard members and Reservists can tap into the same VA loan benefit that’s helped generations of Veterans and active duty service members achieve the dream of homeownership.

Guard and Reserve members first gained access to the VA loan benefit in 1992. Legislation passed in 2020 swung open the doors to even more Guard members who’ve performed full-time duty.

Let’s take a closer look at the broad eligibility guidelines for Guard and Reserve, along with the latest changes that will make an estimated 50,000 more Guardsmen eligible for this historic home loan benefit.

Eligibility Requirements for National Guard and Reserve

Generally, six years of service in the Guard or Reserve is the catch-all requirement. Once you hit six years of honorable service, you’re typically eligible for a VA loan.

But the government also grants home loan eligibility before six years in certain cases. For decades, Guard and Reserve called to active duty service under Title 10 have gained VA loan eligibility, as long as they serve at least 90 consecutive days.

Guardsmen mobilized under Title 32 orders haven’t had the same kind of early access to the VA loan benefit. That’s where this new legislation makes a huge difference.

New Expanded VA Loan Eligibility for National Guard

VA loan eligibility for current and former National Guardsmen received a big boost in 2020 thanks to the Veteran Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act.

This legislation helps bridge the eligibility gap between Title 10 and Title 32 service.

Now, Guard members activated under Title 32 orders can be eligible for a VA loan after serving 90 cumulative days of full-time duty, of which at least 30 must have been consecutive.

The National Guard Association of the United States estimates as many as 50,000 Guardsmen mobilized for the COVID-19 pandemic may gain immediate access to the home loan benefit.

This legislative change is also retroactive. Guard members who served decades ago but meet the new Title 32 guidelines could now be eligible for a VA loan.

VA Loan Documents for Guard & Reserve

Some of the paperwork and documentation can vary, but the VA loan process itself isn't any different for Guard or Reserve borrowers. They have access to the same significant homebuying benefits that have helped millions of service members purchase homes since 1944.

Prospective homebuyers can talk with a Veterans United loan specialist about their eligibility for the VA loan program. You don't need to have your Certificate of Eligibility in hand to start the VA mortgage process.

Once things are underway, lenders may ask for a DD-214, a NGB-22 for National Guard members, or a points statement and copy of discharge statement for Reservists.

Here's a closer look at some of the service-specific documents lenders may need:

  • National Guard: NGB-22 or NGB-23
  • Army Reserve: DARP Form FM 249-2E or ARPC Form 606-E
  • Navy Reserve: NRPC 1070-124
  • Air Force Reserve: AF 526
  • Marine Corps Reserve: NAVMC HQ509 or NAVMC 798
  • Coast Guard Reserve: CG 4174 or 4175

Talk with a Veterans United loan specialist for more details.

Counting Guard and Reserve Income

Reserve and Guard homebuyers may be able to include their service income as effective income toward mortgage qualification. As with other forms of income, stability and reliability are key.

Lenders will look at your history of service and indications that it's likely to continue. If there are concerns about stability, lenders may at least be able to use that income to offset short-term obligations. In other words, service income could basically cancel out other expenses that are expected to last a year or two.

Lenders may also inquire about whether your income could change based on your unit being activated.

VA Funding Fee

Unless they have a service-connected disability, all VA borrowers pay a funding fee. This fee goes directly to the Department of Veterans Affairs and helps keep the program going for future generations of service members and Veterans. The VA Funding Fee percentage varies based on your service, the type of loan, and how many times you've used the program.

For first-time purchases and Cash-Out refinances, the funding fee for Guard and Reserve borrowers is 2.3 percent of the loan amount. For every purchase or Cash-Out refinance that follows, the VA Funding Fee percentage increases to 3.6 percent for all borrowers.

It’s possible to finance the VA Funding Fee into the loan, or you can ask the seller to pay it.

Getting Started

The VA backs thousands of loans for Guard and Reserve members and Veterans each year. With thousands of Guardsmen and Reservists now being eligible for the VA loan, be sure you talk with a Veterans United loan specialist at 855-870-8845 to learn more about your purchasing power and what might be possible. You can also check your VA loan eligibility online today.

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