The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs administers the VA Home Loan Program which is one the most powerful benefits that active servicemembers and veterans can use.

Since it’s inception in 1944 as part of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, more than 20 million veterans have taken advantage of the program. Under this program, the VA does not issue actual loans, but instead, guarantees loans made to veterans by commercial lenders. This means that the loans are considered very low risk and as a result, the VA has been able to incorporate several favorable terms into the program. These include:

  • No down payment in many instances
  • No Private Mortgage Insurance is required
  • Qualifying for a loan is easier for servicemembers and veterans
  • More favorable interest rates

To qualify for a VA Loan, veterans must meet eligibility requirements:

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  • Good credit and a steady and reliable source of income
  • The loan must be used for a primary residence
  • The veteran must meet a minimum active duty service requirement
  • The veteran must be able to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility.

The Certificate of Eligibility does not guarantee that a veteran will get a loan, but it does verify to lenders that a veteran has been pre-qualified and is a considered a good risk by the government to be issued a guaranteed loan.

A VA Loan can be used in many ways:

  • To purchase a primary residence
  • To refinance and take cash out of an existing property
  • To lower the interest rate from what is currently being charged
  • To help Native Americans buy properties on Federal trust land
  • To obtain disabled veterans obtain grants to make their existing homes more disabled-friendly
  • To obtain Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance
  • To obtain farm loans where there is a residence on the farm property
  • To help nonprofits buy shelters at a discount to assist homeless veterans
  • Counseling assistance for veterans with delinquent loans

Loans are administered through Regional Loan Centers located throughout the United States. Each one can assist veterans in working through the requirements of the VA Loan program as well as working with lenders, real estate professionals and appraisers through training programs to make the VA loan process as streamlined as possible. 

As part of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act passed in 1944, the VA Home Loan Program has been an important benefit for servicemembers and veterans for more than 70 years. In 2013 alone, more than 630,000 veterans took advantage of this powerful benefit, and over the life of the program, more than 20 million veterans and their families have enjoyed more affordable homeownership.

Although the VA does not issue loans itself, it works closely with lenders to assist veterans and active servicemembers obtain loans by guaranteeing payments on the loans if the veteran is not able to make payments. This guarantee generates several powerful advantages for veterans due to lenders’ reduced risks, ranging from low to no down payments, no mortgage insurance and other related benefits.

Check Your Eligibility

Absolutely RISK-FREE & Confidential Evaluation!

I acknowledge and understand that by submitting this Contact Request form through clicking "Check Eligibility!", I provide my express consent to the following: (1) That I am bound by Eligibility.com LLC’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use; (2) That I am not required to submit this form, and thereby agree to all terms located herein, as a condition to receive any property, goods, or services that may be offered, and that I may revoke my consent at any time.

As traditional lenders have tightened their lending requirements, this program offers a path to homeownership for veterans who might not otherwise have had the means to enjoy such a dream.

The Benefits of a VA Loan

Assisting veterans and active servicemembers with favorable loan terms when purchasing or improving a home is one of the most important benefits of military service. It puts homeownership in reach for many families at a time when high home costs and loan requirements can be daunting.

There are many benefits that come with a VA loan:

No down payment. For qualified borrowers, VA Loans are available at 0% down payment, making them an extremely attractive alternative for first-time homebuyers. By contrast, a conventional loan may require up to 20% for a down payment, putting the dream of homeownership out of reach for many buyers.

No PMI. Because VA Loans are backed by the government, banks do not require buyers to purchase Private Mortgage Insurance, saving thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a loan. For conventional loans, PMI is generally required for borrowers who finance 80% or more of their home’s value.

Qualifying for a loan is easier. The VA Loan is backed by the government, meaning that banks can assume less risk and have less onerous qualifying standards for potential borrowers. That makes the loans easier to qualify for and obtain. Conventional loans set higher standards due to increased risk, meaning less people qualify.

Better interest rates. Again, due to VA Loans being guaranteed, lenders enjoy greater loan protection and that can translate into a more favorable loan rate for applicants. By contrast, without government backing, there is increased risk, and lenders must adjust rates upward to compensate for that risk.

There are several criteria that must be met to qualify for a VA Loan:

  • You must have good credit.
  • You must have a steady, reliable and adequate source of income.
  • You are using the loan for a residence that will be for your own occupancy. This can include:
  • Buying a home or condo in a VA-approved project
  • Building a new home
  • Simultaneously purchasing and improving a home
  • Making or installing energy efficient features 
  • Buying a manufactured home and/or a lot
  • You are the spouse of a veteran who died while serving or from a service related disability, or a servicemember who is missing in action or a prisoner of war, or a surviving spouse age who remarried after reaching age 57 and did so after December 16, 2003.
  • You must be able to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility.
  • You must meet U.S. military service requirements or have been discharged under conditions that were anything but dishonorable. If you do not meet service requirements as set forth below, you may still qualify for a VA Loan if you were discharged due to: hardship; the convenience of the government; a reduction in force; certain medical conditions; or a service-related disability.
  • Servicemembers and veterans must meet the following service requirements.

 

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, OR
The 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, OR
The 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, AND
Were 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

(Source)

You must prove you are eligible for a VA loan before you can move forward with the actual loan process. Lenders will require a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) that verifies you are qualified for a VA loan. 

To obtain a COE, you will need to submit evidence to Veterans Affairs who will then issue a COE. What you need to submit will vary depending on the nature of your eligibility.

Category
Evidence To Apply
Veteran
DD Form 214 - required to have a copy showing the character of service (item 24) and the narrative reason for separation (item 28).
Current or former National Guard or Reserve member who has been activated Federal active service
Active Duty Servicemember
A current statement of service:
signed by (or by the direction of):
the adjutant, personnel office, or commander of the unit or higher headquarters
showing:
Your full name
Social Security Number
Date of birth
Entry date on active duty
The duration of any lost time
The name of the command providing the information
Current National Guard or Reserve member who has never been Federal active service
Statement of service:
signed by (or by the direction of):
the adjutant, personnel officer or commander of your unit or higher headquarters
showing:
Your full name
Social Security Number
Date of birth
Entry date on duty
The total number of creditable years of service
The duration of any lost time
The name of the command providing the information
Discharged member of the National Guard who has never been activated for Federal active service
NGB Form 22, Report of Separation and Record of Service, for each period of National Guard service
-OR-
NGB Form 23, Retirement Points Accounting, and proof of the character of service
Discharged member of the Selected Reserve who has never been activated for Federal active service
Copy of your latest annual retirement points statement and evidence of honorable service
If you are a Surviving Spouse in Receipt of DIC (Dependency & Indemnity Compensation) benefits
Submit VA form 26-1817 and veteran’s DD214 ( if available)
Include veteran’s and surviving spouse’s social security number on the 26-1817 form
If you are a Surviving Spouse and are not receiving DIC (Dependency & Indemnity Compensation) benefits
Submit the following to the appropriate Compensation and Pension office:
- VA form 21-534
- DD214 (if available)
- Marriage License
- Death Certificate or DD Form 1300 – Report of Casualty
- Please find the mailing address for your state to send the VA 21-534 on the following link. PMC States

(Source)

If you are a Surviving Spouse and want to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility, you must complete VA Form 26-1817, Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility – Unmarried Surviving Spouses, located at http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-26-1817-ARE.pdf. Spouses can take the completed form to a lender for processing or mail the completed form to:

VA Loan Eligibility Center

Attention: COE (262)

PO Box 100034

Decatur, GA 30031

After you assemble the appropriate documents, you can apply for your Certificate of Eligibility as follows:

Online: To get a COE online, you can use the Department of Veterans Affairs eBenefits portal located at https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage. If you need help logging in or working through the portal, call the eBenefits Help Desk at 1-800-983-0937, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 8 pm EST.

Through your Lender: Lenders who have access to the Web LGY system can establish eligibility and secure a COE in a very quick turnaround. Not all cases can be processed through Web LGY, but veterans are encouraged to pursue this method where possible.

By Mail: Veterans can apply through the mail by completing a VA Form 26-1880, Request for Certificate of Eligibility, located at http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/vba-26-1880-are.pdf. Mailing instructions are located on the form.

The VA Loan Program is actually a family of loan benefits for veterans. There are many options available:

VA Guaranteed Purchase Loan: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not actually make loans to veterans, but provides lenders with a guarantee that loan will be backed and repaid by the U.S. government. Under terms of this loan agreement and because the loan is considered very low risk, lenders agree that no down payment will be required (within certain limits), no mortgage insurance will be required, closing costs are low and limited, and the benefit can be reused by veterans when certain conditions are met. 

Veterans can use the loan to buy and existing home, refinance a current loan, or use the loan proceeds to build a home. Under all circumstances, the loan must be used for a veteran’s primary residence.

Cash-Out Refinance Loans: Homeowners who want to use their home’s equity to pay off existing debt, for emergencies, to pay for school, make improvements in their home, or other related uses can take advantage of a VA Cash-Out Refinance Loan. This loan can also be used to convert an existing non-VA loan into a VA loan.

The VA Streamline Refinance Loan: As known as the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL), this loan allows veterans who currently have a VA loan to refinance it into a lower interest rate, saving on monthly mortgage costs. This type of loan is attractive for many reasons, including little paperwork, a small amount of loan costs that can many times be rolled into the loan, and the ability to obtain the loan without an appraisal in many instances. This loan is only available to veterans who already have a VA loan.

Native American Direct Home Loan: Native American veterans and their spouses may be eligible for a home loan guaranteed benefit on Federal trust land. However, before a Native American veteran can obtain a loan, their tribal or sovereign governing body must sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Veterans Affairs. 

Once this agreement has been reached, qualifying veterans can apply to Veterans Affairs for a 30-year fixed rate loan that will allow them to purchase, build or improve a home located on Federal trust land covered by the MOU. Veterans can also refinance existing loans under this program to get a lower interest rate. Native American veterans can also use the traditional VA Loan program if the home they want to purchase is not located on Federal trust land.

Specially Adapted Housing Grants: Veterans Affairs helps disabled servicemembers and veterans by offering them grants to build, remodel, or purchase a barrier-free adapted home. In many cases, the grant allows a veteran the opportunity to live independently that they may not otherwise be able to enjoy. The current maximum allowable grant is $70,465.

To obtain for a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant, a servicemember or a veteran’s qualifying disability may due to:

The loss, or the loss of the use of both legs in such a way that they are not able to move without the aid of a wheelchair, crutches, canes or other similar devices;

Blind in both eyes, plus the loss or loss of at least one leg;

The loss or the loss of the use of both arms at or above the elbows;

A severe burn injury.

The VA also offers a Special Housing Adaption (SHA) Grant that can be used by eligible servicemembers and veterans to increase mobility throughout their homes. Those with service-related disabilities may be qualified to receive up to $14,093 under this grant.

Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance: Severely disabled servicemembers and veterans may be eligible for home mortgage insurance if they received a Specially Adapted Housing grant, have title to the home, and currently have a mortgage on the home they are required to pay back.

The VMLI Program will pay lenders up to $200,000 toward the outstanding mortgage if a veteran passes away. Under this program, reverse mortgages and home equity lines of credit are not covered, and the veteran must apply for coverage before they turn 70 years old.

Premiums are determined by the age of the veteran when they apply, as well as the length and the remaining amount of the outstanding mortgage at the time of application.

Farm Loans: Veterans can use their VA Loan benefit to purchase a farm as long as there is a farm residence on the property that will be owned and occupied by the veteran as a primary residence. Although the loan cannot be used as a business loan to purchase a farming business, it can be used to purchase a farm where there is an existing residence.

There is no limit on the number of acres the farm has, as long as there are a similar properties in the area that have been appraised and sold primarily for residential use and that also have farm improvements such as barns, stables and pasture land that are not normally considered residential in nature. The valuation cannot also include livestock, crops or equipment such as tractors.

If income to help repay the VA Guaranteed loan is to come from farming, then the veteran must be able to show they have the necessary experience and abilities as a farmer to qualify for the loan. In most cases, applicants will be subjected to the same guidelines as other self-employed VA loan applicants.

Home Shelter Loans: The VA administers a Homeless Shelter Program that sells properties at a discount to certain nonprofits and local governments to provide shelter for homeless veterans. Properties are discounted based on how long they have been listed, and purchasing organizations may enjoy as much as a 50 percent discount on the purchase price. Purchasers must agree to operate the property as a shelter for homeless veterans for a minimum of three years to qualify for the discount. All VA owned properties that have been listed for sale for more than 30 days are eligible for the Homeless Shelter Program.

Assistance with delinquent home loans: Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, veterans may seek help with the economic and legal issues while on active duty. Veterans with VA guaranteed loans who ask for help under the SCRA will enjoy certain protections. This includes getting help from Loan Technicians at Regional Loan Centers who actively work with lenders to find ways to avoid foreclosure. 

Servicemembers with guaranteed loans can call (877) 827-3702 and speak with a Loan Technician who will be able to assist them. This program is only available for servicemembers with VA guaranteed loans and not for veterans or servicemembers who currently have conventional or sub-prime loans.

Regional Loan Center Contact Information

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs operates eight regional loan centers that administer the VA’s Home Loan Guaranty Program.

If you are located in…
Mailing address
Phone Number/Hours
of Operation/Notes
Georgia
North Carolina
South Carolina
Tennessee
Department of Veterans Affairs
VA Regional Loan Center
1700 Clairmont Rd.
Decatur, GA 30033-4032
(Mail: P.O. Box 100023, Decatur, GA 30031-7023)
1-888-768-2132
1-888-768-2132
8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Serves veterans nationally with foreclosure prevention and eligibility determination assistance. Also houses the National Eligibility Center that issues Certificates of Eligibility.
Connecticut
Delaware
Indiana
Maine
Massachusetts
Michigan
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Vermont
Department of Veterans Affairs
VA Regional Loan Center
1240 East Ninth Street
Cleveland, OH 44199
1-800-729-5772
8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Provides training for lenders, real estate professionals, and appraisers involved in VA Loan Guaranty programs.
Alaska
Colorado
Idaho
Montana
Oregon
Utah
Washington
Wyoming
Department of Veterans Affairs
VA Regional Loan Center
155 Van Gordon Street
Lakewood, CO 80228
(Mail: Box 25126, Denver, CO 80225)
1-888-349-7541
Open daily to the public Monday–Friday, 8 am–3:45 pm, except noon-3:45 pm on Wednesdays.
Provides training for lenders, real estate professionals, and appraisers involved in VA Loan Guaranty programs.
Hawaii
Guam
American Samoa
Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas
Department of Veterans Affairs
VA Regional Office
Loan Guaranty Division (26)
459 Patterson Rd.
Honolulu, HI 96819
1-808-433-0480
1-800-827-1000
8 a.m.–4 p.m. Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time
Although not an RLC, this Regional Office is a fully functioning Loan Guaranty operation for Hawaii.
Provides training and oversight for private-sector stakeholders participating in the VA Loan Guaranty programs.
Arkansas
Louisiana
Oklahoma
Texas
 Department of Veterans Affairs
VA Regional Loan Center
6900 Almeda Road
Houston, TX 77030-4200
1-888-232-2571
7:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Central Standard Time
Provides training and oversight for private-sector stakeholders participating in the VA Loan Guaranty programs.
Arizona
California
New Mexico
Nevada
Department of Veterans Affairs
VA Regional Loan Center
3333 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85012-2402
1-888-869-0194
7:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Mountain Standard Time
Provides training for lenders, real estate professionals, and appraisers involved in VA Loan Guaranty programs.
District of Columbia
Kentucky
Maryland
Virginia
West Virginia
Department of Veterans Affairs
VA Regional Loan Center
210 Franklin Road, S.W.
Roanoke, VA 24011
1-800-933-5499
8:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Provides resources for lenders, real estate professionals, and appraisers involved in VA Loan Guaranty programs.
Illinois
Iowa
Kansas
Minnesota
Missouri
Nebraska
North Dakota
South Dakota
Wisconsin
Department of Veterans Affairs
VA Regional Loan Center
1 Federal Drive, Ft. Snelling
St. Paul, MN 55111-4050
1-800-827-0611
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central Standard Time
Assistance by Phone at 1-800-827-0611: Monday - Friday 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Central Standard Time
Provides resources for lenders, real estate professionals, and appraisers involved in VA Loan Guaranty programs.
Alabama
Florida
Mississippi
Puerto Rico
U.S. Virgin Islands
Department of Veterans Affairs
VA Regional Loan Center
9500 Bay Pines Blvd.
St. Petersburg, FL 33708
(Mail: P.O. Box 1437, St. Petersburg, FL 33731)
1-888-611-5916
8:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Provides resources for lenders, real estate professionals, and appraisers involved in VA Loan Guaranty programs.