VA Home Loan Guidelines


Soldier petting dog
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a home loan guarantee program for veterans, active-duty servicemen and their surviving spouses. The program is intended to help those who have served in the armed forces to purchase or build homes, repair current residences and refinance existing home loans. A serviceman must meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify for a VA home loan.


Eligibility for VA home loans depends on a number of factors. According to, a member of the armed forces who is on active duty or has been honorably discharged may be eligible if she was on active duty for at least 90 days during a war or 181 days during a time of peace. Those in the Reserves or National Guard may be eligible after serving for at least six years. Additionally, the surviving spouse of a person who was killed performing duties for the military may also be eligible for a VA loan.


Veterans and servicemen can apply for VA home loans through a lending institution that is approved by the VA. The VA doesn't grant home loans. Instead, it guarantees the loans its approved lenders grant. This means the VA promises to repay your VA home loan if you default on it. Contact the regional VA loan center in your area for a current list of approved lenders (see Resources below).

Certificate of Eligibility

Borrowers have to obtain a certificate of eligibility (COE) to qualify for a VA home loan. To obtain this document, a prospective borrower has to complete Form 26-1880 (see Resources below), which is used to request the certificate of eligibility. This form should be sent to the VA Eligibility Center--the address is listed on the form--along with proof that the person applying or her surviving spouse was in the military.

Proof of Service

A person must supply proof of service documentation in order to get a VA home loan. If the person is still in active military service, he may ask his personnel officer or commander to provide a signed statement of service. If he's been honorably discharged, he'll have to provide a copy of his Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, which is VA Form 214 (see Resources below).


While credit is an issue with most types of home loan programs, the VA home loan program is forgiving of lower credit scores. According to, VA home loans are not based on credit scores. Instead, the borrower's past 12 months of payment history are considered. This means a borrower can secure a VA home loan with bad credit as long as she's made timely payments on her bills over the previous year. A borrower may even secure a VA loan after bankruptcy as long as she's paid all of her bills on time for two years before seeking a VA home loan.

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