What Are the Eligibility Requirements for VA Home Loans?

You’ve already asked the important questions to know whether you’re ready for a new home. And you’ve decided to take that next step: doing your research on the right kind of mortgage for you. However, you may not realize that you could be eligible for a Veterans Administration (VA) home loan and why that might be a good fit for your situation.

So, what are the VA home loan eligibility requirements?

1. If you served in the U.S. Armed Forces, the requirements vary depending on when and how you served.

While there are basic active service requirements that veterans must meet to be eligible for the VA home loan benefit, your eligibility depends quite a bit on when and how you served the United States.

Wartime: In general, if you served during wartime (World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War), you must have served at least 90 days of active duty. If you didn’t serve at least 90 days of active duty, but were discharged with a service-related disability, you may still qualify. In any instance, if you were discharged dishonorably, you are not eligible for a VA home loan.

Gulf War: If you served during the Gulf War, there are a few more requirements. In this case, you must have served at least 90 days of active duty and been discharged honorably for particular reasons. Applicable reasons include hardship, early out, convenience of the Government, reduction in force, condition interfered with duty, or compensable service-connected disability. If you served for 24 months of continuous active duty, you are also eligible.

Peacetime: If you served during peacetime, you must have served at least 181 days, unless you were discharged with a service-related disability.

Currently Serving: If you are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, you can establish eligibility after 90 days of continuous active duty. If you are discharged or released from active duty, you will need to re-establish your eligibility.

Selected Reserve or National Guard: If you are not otherwise eligible but have served at least 6 years with the Selected Reserve or National Guard, then you may qualify for a VA home loan.

2. If you’re a spouse of a veteran, there are a few instances in which you may also be eligible.

While the majority of people who apply for VA home loans have served in the U.S. armed forces, you may still be eligible if you are the spouse of a deceased veteran or one who was taken as a prisoner of war. In short, if your spouse died in action, died of service-related disabilities, or was classified as “Missing in Action” or a “Prisoner of War,” you could be eligible.

3. If you’re not a veteran or the spouse of a deceased/MIA/POW veteran, you could still be eligible.

In addition to the individuals who served in the U.S. armed forces or who had a spouse who served, a few other people are eligible for VA home loan benefits. You may qualify if you…

  • Served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in World War II
  • Were a Public Health Service officer
  • Were a cadet at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy
  • Served as a midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy
  • Served as an officer of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
  • Were a merchant seaman with World War II service

Need even more info? See the VA’s complete list of eligibility requirements here.

4. Whether or not you’re a veteran, you still need to meet income and credit requirements.

Most banks and mortgage lenders will require that you have a credit rating of 620+ to be eligible for a VA home loan, but some lenders, including Easy Mortgage, will approve applicants who have a credit rating of at least 580. So, even if you’ve been turned away from banks and other financial institutions, you could find a home through another lender and, if you meet the other eligibility requirements, you could still obtain a VA home loan.

It’s also important that you meet the income requirements outlined by your local lender. For example, most financial institutions will require that your mortgage payment be no more than 40% of your gross  income. Again, some lenders may still approve your home loan application if you are paying up to 50% of your gross  income toward your mortgage and related expenses.

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