Program DescriptionThe Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loan guaranties are issued to help eligible Servicemembers, Veterans, Reservists, National Guard members and certain surviving spouses obtain, retain and adapt a home and to refinance their loan.
General Program RequirementsPersons who may qualify for VA-guaranteed loans include
- Eligible Veterans / Servicemember
- Current Reserve and National Guard members (usually after 6 years of service)
- Certain surviving spouses
Commissioned Officers of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are considered to be active duty members and veterans, once discharged.
As a requirement for a VA home loan, the Veteran or the Veterans' spouse must certify occupancy for the property. Now, the dependent child of an active duty Servicemember may satisfy the occupancy requirement for a VA home loan.
Length-of-service requirements apply in most cases.
Generally, in order to receive VA benefits and services the Veteran/Servicemember's character of discharge or service must be under other than dishonorable conditions (e.g., honorable, under honorable conditions, general). However, Reserve and National Guard members must have an honorable discharge. Sometimes, Veterans/Servicemembers receiving undesirable, bad conduct and other types of dishonorable discharges may qualify for VA benefits depending on a determination made by VA. Additional eligibility information is online.
Loan TermsUnder the VA-guaranteed Home Loan program, VA does not make loans to Veterans and Servicemembers; VA-guaranteed loans are made by private-sector lenders. The guaranty amount is what VA could pay a lender should the loan go to foreclosure.
VA-guaranteed home loans have no maximum loan amount, only a maximum guaranty amount, which is set in law. However, due to secondary market requirements, lenders typically require that the VA guaranty, plus any downpayment provided by a Veteran, total 25 percent of the loan amount. As a result, an amount equal to four times VA's maximum guaranty amount is customarily referred to as a "loan limit." Loans for the loan limit or less are typically available to Veterans with no downpayment; loans for more than the loan limit generally require downpayments. VA's maximum guaranty amounts are established annually, and vary, depending on the size of the loan and the location of the property.
Your Next StepsThe following information will lead you to the next steps to apply for this benefit.
Application ProcessTo apply, you will need a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE). There are several ways to obtain your COE:
- You may be able to obtain a COE online through eBenefits.
- If you are unable to obtain your COE through eBenefits, check with your lender. In most cases, your lender will be able to obtain a COE for you using the Automated Certificate of Eligibility (ACE) program.
Program Contact Information
If you have questions:
- Visit the Inquiry Routing and Information System (IRIS) website to search Frequently Asked Questions or ask a question on-line.
- Please contact a Regional Loan Center if you have detailed questions.
To apply for additional Veterans' benefits and view your benefit status, open an eBenefits Premium account. eBenefits is a one-stop source for information on Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs benefits and services. With a free Premium level eBenefits account, Veterans and Servicemembers can conduct self-service transactions such as checking claim status information, GI Bill enrollment, and obtaining copies of civil service preference letters, DD214, and other personal information. For further information and to register for a free Premium level account, visit the eBenefits website.