The VA home loan benefit is available to currently serving and former military members who meet the program’s eligibility requirements including minimum time of service on active duty. Those requirements vary depending on the nature of your military service and when you joined; speak to a loan officer or look at the VA official site to determine what may apply to you.
For those who know they are eligible, applying for a VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is the first step towards getting a VA loan. Applying for the COE should be done before you need to speak to your lender about filling out an application–your COE tells the lender how much VA loan entitlement you have to use, and whether or not you are exempt from paying the VA loan funding fee. The lender won’t be able to process a VA mortgage loan application properly without the data the VA COE provides.
Applying for the COE can be done with a lender’s help or independently by submitting the required paperwork to the VA. What does the Department of Veterans Affairs require in order to send you a Certificate of Eligibility? That depends on whether you are currently on active duty, retired or separated from military service, or whether you serve in the National Guard or Reserves.
Veterans need to submit a copy of their discharge paperwork, known as DD Form 214. This form must have a complete entry that details the character of applicant’s military service (item 24) and “the narrative reason for separation” (item 28) according to the VA official site. VA home loan benefits are approved for all eligible applicants except those who have dishonorable discharges. Any other type of discharge qualifies for the VA loan benefit.
Active duty members need to furnish a “current statement of service” which features the applicant’s full name, rank, date of birth, date of military service, and other relevant information. This statement must be signed by the applicant’s commander or designated authority and the lender may require a statement of the time remaining on the current military service commitment.
Members of the Guard and Reserve require a similar statement of service, and should also include a statement pertaining to “lost time” where applicable. Those who have retired or separated from the Guard or Reserve need to provide copies of their military discharge paperwork showing the nature of the discharge.
The lender can assist with this paperwork. If you aren’t sure what you may need or if your military status between active duty, retirement or separation is due to change in the middle of the home loan application process, discuss the situation with your loan officer to see what may be required. Borrowers who wish to submit their paperwork without the help of the lender should visit the VA official site at www.va.gov and use the eBenefits portal.