Today, we’ll explore the 8 categories of VA mortgage loan eligibility. Based on your service to our country, you may be eligible for a VA home loan.
The VA itself is the only organization that can determine eligibility for a VA direct or VA-backed home loan benefit based on your length of service or service commitment, duty status, and character of service.
The easiest way to determine your eligibility for a VA loan is to get a copy of your VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE).
Expanded details for determining VA loan eligibility (including calculating credible years of service) can be found in Chapter 7 of the M26-1, Guaranteed Loan Processing Manual, Certificate of Eligibility and Entitlement.
Table of Contents
Lender Borrowing Requirements for VA Loans
You must meet your lender’s minimum or standards of credit, income, and any other requirements to approve a loan. While the VA does not require a minimum credit score, most lenders will use a credit score to help determine your interest rate and to lower risk. Because different lenders have different requirements, feel free to shop around for a lender that meets your financial and homebuying needs.
VA’s Borrowing Requirements for VA Loans
The VA does not determine how much you can borrow. However, unlike other loans, the VA requires you to have enough income remaining after paying your mortgage and other financial obligations. This helps ensure you can afford homeownership and lessen the risk of defaulting on your loan.
Also, you must:
- Live in the home being bought with the loan, and
- Meet one of the following 8 categories below:
2024 VA Mortgage Loan Eligibility
What are the requirements to qualify for VA loan?
First, you must have been discharged from the military without an Other Than Honorable, Bad Conduct, or Dishonorable discharge. Find out how to upgrade your discharge status.
Second, there are 8 categories that qualify for VA loan eligibility:
- (#1) Active Duty Servicemember
- (#2) Veteran
- (#3) National Guard on Active Duty Orders
- (#4) Reserve on Active Duty Orders
- (#5) Reserve and National Guard Service Members
- (#6) Reserve and National Guard Veterans
- (#7) Eligible Spouses
- (#8) Other Eligible Borrowers
#1. Active Duty Servicemember
Currently on active duty and have served at least 90 continuous days. Active duty includes Active Guard Reserve (AGR) members activated under Title 10 U.S.C.
Veterans separated from active duty between August 2, 1990,and the present (Gulf War era) must have served:
- 24 continuous months, or
- A full period (at least 90 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty, or
- At least 90 days if discharged for a hardship, a reduction in force, or for convenience of the government, or
- Less than 90 days (if discharged for a service-connected disability)
This includes Reserve and National Guard members called to active duty for at least 90 days. Active duty does not include active duty for training.
#3. National Guard on Active Duty Orders
- At least 90 days of non-training active-duty service (shown on DD214 for the activation or any other documents to support the activation), or
- At least 90 days of active service including at least 30 consecutive days (shown as 32 USC sections 316, 502, 503, 504 or 505 activation on your DD214, annual point statements, DD220 with accompanying orders, or any other documents to support the activation)
#4. Reserve on Active Duty Orders
- At least 90 days of non-training active-duty service (shown on DD214 or any other documents to support the activation)
#5. Reserve and National Guard Service Members
If not otherwise eligible (e.g., with prior active duty or Title 10 or Title 32 service listed under the Veteran section above), this includes those currently serving in the Selected Reserve or National Guard (member of an active unit, attending required weekend drills, and two-week active duty for training).
You must complete a total of 6 credible years and ONE of the following:
- Continue to serve in the Selected Reserve.
- Serve as Active Guard Reserve (AGR).
- Placed on the retired list.
- Transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable service.
Note: AGR Service members (on Title 32 U.S.C. orders) and Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) Service members must meet the 6-year requirement. Periods of Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) service are not creditable toward the 6-year requirement.
#6. Reserve and National Guard Veterans
If not otherwise eligible based on the Veteran section above, you must have completed a total of 6 credible years in the Selected Reserve or National Guard (member of an active unit, attended required weekend drills and two-week active duty for training) and one of the following:
- Discharged with an honorable discharge, or
- 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 service.
Note: Periods of Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) service are not creditable toward the 6-year requirement Individuals who completed less than six years may be eligible if discharged for a service-connected disability. For discharge status that is not honorable, see the Other Than Honorable, Bad Conduct, or Dishonorable discharges.
#7. Eligible Spouses
The spouse of a Veteran can also apply for home loan eligibility if they (1) are eligible for, or in receipt of, a qualifying Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefit award, and (2) under one of the following conditions:
- Unremarried surviving spouse of a Veteran who died while in service (active, reserve, or national guard) or from a service-connected disability, or
- Unremarried surviving spouse of certain totally disabled (100% rated) Veteran whose disability may not have been the cause of death, or
- Surviving spouse who remarries on or after December 16, 2003 after attaining age 57, or
- Spouse of a living Service member missing in action (MIA) or a prisoner of war (POW) for more than 90 days, for as long as the Service member is in that status (this is one-time use only).
#8. Other Eligible Borrowers
- A U.S. citizen who served in the Armed Forces of a government allied with the United States in World War II
- Cadet at the United States Military Academy, Air Force Academy, or Coast Guard Academy
- Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy
- Commissioned Officers of the Public Health Service
- Officer of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Merchant seaman during World War II
VA Home Loan Buyer’s Guide [DOWNLOAD]
Written and released by the VA, The Official VA Home Loan Buyer’s Guide provides a comprehensive overview of the VA loan process, designed to assist veterans, active-duty service members, and surviving spouses in purchasing, refinancing, or adapting a home through the VA loan program.
It covers eligibility requirements, the benefits of VA loans such as no down payment and no private mortgage insurance, types of VA loans available, the process of applying for a VA loan, and tips for finding the right home.
About the Author
Brian Reese is a senior advisor and co-owner at District Lending. He is one of the world’s leading experts in veteran benefits, having helped millions of veterans secure their financial future since 2013. Brian is the founder VA Claims Insider, an education-based Coaching & Consulting company whose mission is to educate and empower veterans to get the VA disability benefits they’ve earned for their honorable service. A former active-duty air force officer, Brian deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is a distinguished graduate of management of the United States Air Force Academy and earned his MBA as a National Honor Scholar from the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University.
“As a military veteran, I’ve made it my life’s mission to help people live happier and wealthier lives. District Lending brings this mission to life. We believe in integrity, honesty, and transparency, which is why you’ll see our rates right on our website. You’ll find lower rates and zero lending fees, which means you can buy your dream home for less. The savings are passed on to you — the way it should be.”
– Brian Reese, Advisor and Co-Owner, District Lending