VA Home Loan Eligibility

Updated: April 26, 2022
In this Article

    The VA home loan offers eligible borrowers an incredible home buying option. With its no-down terms, the program opens homeownership to people who couldn’t afford a 20% down payment. But, many service members don’t know if they qualify. As a result, we’ll use this article to outline VA home loan eligibility requirements for all potential borrowers.

    Specifically, we’ll discuss the following:

    • VA Home Loan Overview
    • VA Home Loan Eligibility: Veterans
    • VA Home Loan Eligibility: Active Duty Troops
    • VA Home Loan Eligibility: Reserve and National Guard
    • VA Home Loan Eligibility: Exceptions to Minimum Service Requirements
    • VA Home Loan Eligibility: Surviving Spouse
    • VA Home Loan Eligibility: Rare Situations
    • Final Thoughts

    Veterans Can Buy a Home with $0 Down

    {Sponsored}The VA Home Loan offers $0 Down with no PMI. Find out if you’re eligible for this powerful home buying benefit. Prequalify today!

    VA Home Loan Eligibility VA Home Loan Overview

    The Department of Veterans Affairs administers the VA home loan program. However, the VA doesn’t actually originate these loans. Instead, it guarantees the loans provided by VA-approved lenders (e.g. banks, credit unions, and mortgage lenders).

    If a borrower defaults on a loan, the VA will reimburse these lenders a portion of the outstanding loan balance. This guarantee significantly reduces lending risk, and this reduced risk allows lenders to offer the following outstanding VA loan terms:

    However, not all military members qualify for the VA loan. If eligible, borrowers can apply for and receive a Certificate of Eligibility, or COE, from the VA. This certificate tells lenders A) that you qualify for VA loan benefits, and B) how much remaining eligibility – or entitlement – you have. Borrowers can either request their COE from the VA directly, or they can ask their lenders to request it on their behalf.

    In the following sections, we’ll explain the different ways that borrowers can qualify for VA home loan eligibility. This eligibility largely centers on the character of an individual’s service.

    VA Home Loan Eligibility: Veterans

    For veterans, eligibility hinges upon both when you served and how you served. Depending on your particular dates of service, you will qualify for VA home loan eligibility if you meet your respective criteria outlined in the below section.

    Between Sept. 16, 1940 and July 25, 1947 (WWII):

    • 90 total days, or
    • Less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

    Between July 26, 1947 and June 26, 1950 (post-WWII period):

    • 181 continuous days, or
    • Less than 181 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

    Between June 27, 1950 and Jan. 31, 1955 (Korean War):

    • 90 total days, or
    • Less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

    Between Feb. 1, 1955 and Aug. 4, 1964 (post-Korean War period):

    • 181 continuous days, or
    • Less than 181 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

    Between Aug. 5, 1964, and May 7, 1975 (Vietnam War), or Feb. 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975, if you served in the Republic of Vietnam:

    • 90 total days, or
    • Less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

    Between May 8, 1975 and Sept. 7, 1980 (post-Vietnam War period), or Between May 8, 1975 and Oct. 16, 1981, if you served as an officer:

    • 81 continuous days, or
    • Less than 181 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

    Between Sept. 8, 1980 and Aug. 1, 1990, or Between Oct. 17, 1981 and Aug. 1, 1990, if you served as an officer:

    • 24 continuous months, or
    • The full period (at least 181 days) for which you were called to active duty

    Between Aug. 2, 1990 and the present (Gulf War):

    • 24 continuous months, or
    • The full period (at least 90 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty, or
    • At least 90 days if you were discharged for a hardship, a reduction in force, or for convenience of the government, or
    • Less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

    You separated from service after Sept. 7, 1980 or After Oct. 16, 1981, if you served as an officer:

    • 24 continuous months, or
    • The full period (at least 181 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty, or
    • At least 181 days if you were discharged for a hardship, a reduction in force, or for convenience of the government, or
    • Less than 181 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability



    VA Home Loan Eligibility: Active Duty Troops

    For active duty troops, VA loan eligibility proves far easier to determine. If you’re currently on active duty, you qualify for the home loan if you’ve completed at least 90 days of continuous service. Most active-duty troops meet this threshold within the first few months of their first enlistment.

    VA Home Loan Eligibility: Reserve and National Guard

    Both National Guard and Reserve members qualify for the VA loan if they meet one of the below criteria:

    • Completed at least six years of honorable service, or
    • Mobilized for active duty for a period of at least 90 days, or
    • Received a discharge due to a service-connected disability

    VA Home Loan Eligibility: Exceptions to Minimum Service Requirements

    Generally speaking, to qualify for the VA home loan, you must meet one of the above requirements. However, exceptions to these minimum service requirements exist for certain service members. If you were discharged for one of the below reasons, you may still be able to receive a COE.

    • Hardship, or
    • The convenience of the government (you must have served at least 20 months of a 2-year enlistment), or
    • Early out (you must have served 21 months of a 2-year enlistment), or
    • Reduction in force, or
    • Certain medical conditions, or
    • A service-connected disability (a disability related to your military service)

    If you believe you fall into the one of the above categories, you can apply directly with the VA for a COE.

    VA Home Loan Eligibility: Surviving Spouse

    In certain situations, the surviving spouse of a deceased service member can qualify for the VA home loan. To receive a COE as a surviving spouse, your spouse must meet at least one of the below criteria.

    • Is missing in action, or
    • Is a prisoner of war (POW), or
    • Died while in service or from a service-connected disability and you didn’t remarry, or
    • Died while in service or from a service-connected disability and you didn’t remarry before you were 57 years old or before Dec. 16, 2003, or
    • Had been totally disabled and then died, but their disability may not have been the cause of death (in certain situations)

    VA Home Loan Eligibility: Rare Situations

    Lastly, certain rare service situations exist that may qualify you for a VA home loan COE. If you served as a member in one of the below organizations, you may be eligible.

    • Public Health Service officer
    • Cadet at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy
    • Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy
    • Officer of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
    • Merchant seaman during World War II

    Final Thoughts

    The VA home loan provides eligible borrowers an unmatched mortgage opportunity. It’s essentially the only loan program that allows borrowers to buy a home with A) no money down, and B) no mortgage insurance. As such, if you think you may be eligible, contact a VA representative to confirm. It’s simply too good of a benefit to not pursue.

    For more information on VA Home Loans, read FAQ about VA Home Loans or 5 Benefits of a VA Loan.



    About The AuthorMaurice “Chipp” Naylon spent nine years as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps. He is currently a licensed CPA specializing in real estate development and accounting.


    Written by Veteran.com Team

    Military & Veteran Discounts

    Want 30+ Military / Veteran Discounts to use today? Enter your email for updates and we'll send them straight to your inbox!

    Get Started

    All information is completely confidential.
    By clicking ‘Get Discounts’ you agree to our Privacy Policy.

    Check VA Loan Eligibility