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To receive a home loan from the VA several qualifications must be met. First and foremost, you may not be required to have the highest credit, but it must be suitable. The home you are looking to purchase must be used as your principle residence, and you will need to have sufficient income to cover a monthly mortgage as well as have a valid COE (Certificate Of Eligibility.)

To Obtain a COE

A certificate of eligibility is fairly easy to obtain if you qualify under any of the following requirements:

Active Service Members

If you are an active service member, there are only two ways to receive a VA home loan. First, you must have actively served during wartime for a consecutive 90 days or you can have served for an uninterrupted 181 days during peacetime. To obtain your COE if you meet these requirements, you must have a current statement of service signed by the commander of your unit (or higher headquarters, the personnel office or the adjutant) which has the following information:

  • 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

Veterans

For veterans of the United States Military, your qualifications are dependent on the war or peace times in which you served.

World War II Veterans that served from the dates of 9/16/1940 – 7/25/1947 must have served a minimum of 90 days. While post WWII veterans who served from the dates of 7/26/1947 – 6/26/1950 must have served a total of 181 consecutive days.

For service members who served in the Korean War within the dates of 6/27/1950 – 1/31/1955, you must have served a total of 90 days. For post Korean War Vets, you must have served 181 continuous days between 2/1/1955 – 8/4/1964.

Vietnam War veterans qualify for a VA home loan if they served a total of 90 days within the dates of 8/5/1964 – 5/7/1975. For those who served in the Republic of Vietnam, the beginning date for the 90 days can begin earlier on 2/28/1961. For post Vietnam War veterans, you must have served a consecutive amount of 181 days within the dates of 5/8/1975 – 9/7/1980. For officers during this time, the dates are 5/8/1975- 10/16/1981.

Service members who fought in the Gulf War have slightly different requirements with a 24-month rule or a full period of 90 days or more of ordered active duty. You had to have served 24 consecutive months in the military between 8/2/1990 and the present to qualify or the 90 days of ordered active duty within the same time period.

The 24-month rule also applies to veterans who served in the time frame of 9/8/1980 – 8/1/1990. For officers the beginning date for the time frame is 10/17/1981.

For all veterans who fit within the qualifications above, you must have the DD Form 214 which shows the character of service (item 24) and the narrative reason for separation (item 28) to qualify for the COE and the VA Home Loan.

Reserve Members

If you were or are a member of the reserves or the National Guard, you can qualify for a home loan backing from the VA if you’ve served a minimum of six years with the National Guard or the Army Reserve, The Navy Reserve, the Air Force Reserve, the Coast Guard Reserve and the Marine Corps Reserve. Your six years are not required to be successive nor all served within one branch of the Reserves or National Guard but six years must have been completed to qualify. Following your service of six years or more, you must have also been placed on the retired list or been honorably discharged, or if neither of those two fit you must have been “transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable.” If you have served six years and are still in the National Guard or Reserves, you qualify. If you meet these qualifications and need your COE, you will need:

For former or current National Guard or Reserve members that have been activated to Federal active service, you will need the DD Form 214 which shows the character of service (item 24) and the narrative reason for separation (item 28) to qualify for the COE and the VA Home Loan.

For those members currently of the National Guard or Reserves which have been in Federal active service, a current statement of service signed by the commander of your unit (or higher headquarters, the personnel office or the adjutant) listing the following information must be obtained:

  • 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

For those which have been in Federal active service and have been discharged from the National Guard, 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 are required.

Reserve service members who have been discharged and never been activated for Federal active service must have a copy of their latest annual retirement points statement and evidence of honorable service to receive a COE.

Spouses

Spouses of Veterans can also qualify for VA Home Loans under the following conditions:

  • They must be an un-remarried spouse of a Veteran who died while in service or from a service connected disability.
  • They are the spouse of a service member who has been missing in action or is deemed a prisoner of war.
  • They are a surviving spouse of a deceased veteran who has remarried on or after age 57, and on or after December 16, 2003.
  • They are the surviving spouse of a totally disabled and deceased veteran whose disability may not have been the cause of death.

For many of these spouses to obtain a COE they must send in a copy of the DD Form 1300 (Report of Casualty) and a copy of their marriage certificate.

If a spouse is already receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) no documentation is needed.

Surviving spouses of a Veteran who died as a result of military service will need to turn in a copy of the award letter from receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) or a copy of the Veteran’s DD Form 214, the Veteran’s death certificate and a copy of the marriage certificate. Remember to put the service member’s social security number on all documents as well.

Receive a VA Home Loan

Obtaining a COE is the largest step to qualifying for a VA Home Loan. A COE along side suitable credit and sufficient income can mean you settle into your own home with the help of the VA. If you have any questions regarding how to qualify for a VA Home Loan, we would be happy to assist you.

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