What Are the Eligibility Requirements for a VA Loan?

Understanding the Eligibility Requirements for a VA Loan

Soldier in military fatigues sitting on a couch with his wife and daughter smiling at the cameraAre you a military service member, veteran, or surviving spouse aspiring to achieve homeownership? If so, grasping the eligibility criteria for a VA loan is paramount. With its distinct benefits and favorable terms, a VA loan can be an exceptional avenue for those who have served our nation. This comprehensive guide will delve into the specific prerequisites determining eligibility for this type of home financing, offering valuable insights to help you capitalize on this opportunity.

Key Takeaways:

  • To be eligible for a VA loan, you or your spouse must meet the minimum service requirements set by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and satisfy the lender's credit and income requirements.
  • The service requirements for a VA loan include serving specific periods of active service during wartime or peacetime, having six years of service in the National Guard or Reserves, or being the spouse of a service member who died while serving or due to a service-related disability.
  • If you don't meet the minimum service requirements, you may still be eligible for a VA loan, depending on your discharge type.
  • Lenders require a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to verify your VA loan eligibility, which can be obtained through a VA-approved lender, online through the VA's eBenefits portal, or by mail with VA Form 26-1880.

Basic Eligibility Requirements:

Military Service:

  • Active Duty Service Members: Typically eligible after serving a specified duration, often 90 continuous days.
  • Veterans: Eligibility hinges on completing the requisite length of service, varying by the era of service.
  • National Guard and Reservists:

  • National Guard: Eligibility after six years of service, with additional conditions.
  • Reservists: generally eligible after six years of service, subject to specific criteria.
  • Surviving Spouses:

  • Spouses of Service Members: Eligible if the service member died in the line of duty or due to a service-connected disability.
  • Spouses of Veterans: Qualify if the veteran died due to a service-connected disability or was totally and permanently disabled.

Discharge Status:A qualifying discharge status, such as an honorable discharge, is typically required for eligibility.

Financial Stability:

Lenders evaluate your credit score and financial stability, with no specific credit score mandate from the VA. While these are overarching guidelines, specifics and exceptions may apply. For precise and current information, consulting the Department of Veterans Affairs or a VA-approved lender is recommended.

Additionally, lenders impose their requisites concerning:

  • Credit score
  • Income
  • Debt-to-income ratio

Length of Service Requirements:

According to the VA, specific service periods during wartime or peacetime are requisite for a VA loan.

  • Wartime Service: 90 consecutive days during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or the Gulf War.
  • Peacetime Service: 181 days of continuous active service during peacetime.
  • National Guard or Reserves: A minimum of six years of service.
  • Spouse of a Deceased Service Member: Must have died while serving or due to a service-related disability.

Active Duty Service Requirements:

Adhering to the prerequisites of active duty service is essential for VA loan qualification. The VA mandates serving at least 90 days during wartime, 181 consecutive days during peacetime, or six years in the National Guard or Reserves. Eligibility may still be possible for those not meeting these requirements, contingent upon discharge type.

Reserve and National Guard Service Requirements:

For Reserve or National Guard members, meeting specific service criteria is necessary for VA loan eligibility. This includes a minimum of six years of service, fulfilling active service requirements during wartime or peacetime, being the spouse of a deceased service member, and satisfying lender credit and income standards.

Discharge Requirements:

For VA loan eligibility, a specific discharge type, such as an honorable discharge or a general discharge under favorable conditions, is requisite. Other discharge types, like dishonorable discharges, do not meet the VA's eligibility criteria.

Now that you understand the discharge prerequisites, let's discuss VA loan entitlement, credit scores, financial qualifications, debt-to-income ratio, employment history, property requirements, loan limits, and the importance of obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for spouses.


In conclusion, comprehending the requirements for a VA loan is pivotal for service members and veterans aspiring to homeownership. Meeting service criteria, obtaining a COE, maintaining a favorable credit history, ensuring financial stability, and adhering to lender requisites are fundamental to eligibility.

By familiarizing yourself with these prerequisites and seeking expert guidance, eligible individuals can leverage this benefit to realize their homeownership goals. Staying informed and prepared to navigate the VA loan process is imperative for a successful home purchase journey.


Recommended Reading
VA Loans in PA: Homebuyer Tips and Requirements
What is a VA Certificate of Eligibility?
VA Loan FAQs: Find the Right First Time Home Buyer Program in PA
VA Gift Fund Guidelines
Read more at VALoanPlus.com