VA Loans FAQ
How do I get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)?
You apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) by filling out a VA Form 26-1880, Request for a Certificate of Eligibility For Home Loan Benefits, and submitting it to the Atlanta Eligibility Center. With this application, you will be required to provide proof of military service with few exceptions. Still, to keep your application from possibly being delayed, we highly recommend that you provide proof of your military service upfront.
Can my lender get my Certificate of Eligibility for me?
Yes, they can get the certificate through a system called Web LGY. The majority of lenders have access to this Internet-based tool, which lets them determine if an applicant is eligible for a VA loan and, if they are eligible, issue the veteran an online Certificate of Eligibility. However, know that some cases that have insufficient data from the VA are not able to be processed through Web LGY. For this reason, veterans should inquire with their lenders to see if Web LGY will work for their individual situation.
What is acceptable proof of military service?
This depends on your current status with the Armed Services. If you’re still considered active duty, your acceptable proof of military service will be an original statement of service signed by the commander, personnel officer, or adjutant of your unit or higher headquarters. This statement should clearly identify you, your social security number, and the date of entry for your current active duty period, as well as the duration of any time, lost.
Those veterans who were discharged from regular active duty after January 1, 1950 will also need to include a copy of DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty with their VA Form 26-1880. Those discharged after October 1, 1979 will need to include a photocopy of the DD Form 214 copy 4. You should not submit the original document.
Those veterans who have been discharged from the National Guard or Selected Reserves must provide enough documentation to show at least six years of honorable service. Those who have been discharged from the Air Force or Army National Guard must submit NGB Form 22, Report of Separation and Record of Service, or NGB Form 23, Retirement Points Accounting. The equivalent of these is also accepted.
Those veterans who have been discharged from the Selected Reserve can also submit a copy of evidence of honorable service and their latest annual points statement. The caveat for Selected Reserve veterans is that, unlike with the Reserves of National Guard, they do not have one single form for proving honorable service. In showing at least 6 years of honorable service, the burden rests on the veteran to provide sufficient documentation.
Those veterans still in service in the National Guard or Selected Reserves must provide proof similar to that of other veterans, securing an original statement of service signed by the commander, personnel officer, or adjutant of their unit or higher headquarters. The statement must display how long the veteran has been a member of the Selected Service and document six years or more of honorable service.
How can I obtain proof of military service?
To secure most of the documents mentioned above, you’ll need to use Standard Form 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records, whether you served in the Selected Reserves or in regular active duty. Remember, you will not submit this form to the VA. Rather, it should be mailed to the appropriate custodian for the military records you’re requesting. Fortunately, Standard Form 180 comes with instructions that detail where you should forward the form, depending on your individual circumstances.
I have already obtained one VA loan. Can I get another one?
You may be able to reuse your VA loan eligibility, under certain circumstances. For instance, if you paid your previous VA loan in full and divested yourself of the property, you are eligible for another VA loan. Another example would be if you’ve paid off a previous VA loan but you still own the property, but this exception can only be used once. Either situation will require that you submit to the Atlanta Eligibility Center a completed VA Form 26-1880.
To make this process as smooth as possible, we recommend that you include ample evidence that the previous VA loan has been paid in full and, if needed, disposed of. A copy of the HUD-1 settlement statement that was completed at the sale of the property or refinance of the prior loan would suffice, as would a paid-in-full statement from the previous lender.
Can I restore my eligibility if I previously sold a home on a VA assumption?
When this happens, the only case in which your VA loan eligibility can be restored is if the qualified assumer is also a veteran who is eligible and willing to substitute his eligibility for your eligibility. Unless this is the case, you will be unable to get your eligibility back until the assumer has paid the loan in full.
Is the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran eligible for the home loan benefit?
The unmarried surviving spouse of a veteran who died while on active duty, or due to a disability connected to their service, is eligible for the home loan benefit. Unmarried surviving spouses wishing to apply for this VA home loan benefit should contact the Atlanta Eligibility Center.
Additionally, if the surviving spouse secured a VA home loan with a veteran before the veteran’s death, they can obtain a VA guaranteed interest rate reduction refinance loan. To get additional information on this benefit, contact the Atlanta Eligibility Center.
Finally, if a surviving spouse remarries upon or after reaching the age of 57—or on or after December 16, 2003—they may be eligible for the home loan benefit. On the other hand, if the surviving spouse remarried prior to December 16, 2003 or on or after reaching age 57, they must have applied no later than December 15, 2004 to determine VA loan eligibility. The VA will deny all applications from surviving spouses who remarried prior to December 16, 2003 that were received after December 15, 2004.
Does active duty for training in the Guard and Reserves qualify for home loan benefits?
No. A veteran of the National Guard or Reserves qualifies for a VA loan if they’ve completed six or more years in the National Guard or Reserves and served under title 10, U.S.C.
Does a veteran’s home loan entitlement expire?
No. Veteran home loan entitlement is good until it’s actually used. Having said that, this eligibility is in effect only available as long as the veteran remains on active duty. If the veteran is released from active duty or discharged before they have used their entitlement, their eligibility will have to be determined again, depending on their length of service and what kind of discharge they were given.
Does getting a Certification of Eligibility guarantee a loan approval?
No. The approval of a VA loan will always be issued by a bank following the typical income, employment, credit, and appraisal underwriting process. The VA merely guarantees the loan that is being issued by the lender.
Are there exceptions to the "No Down Payment" program?
Yes, a few exceptions exist. In one exception, the borrowing veteran must provide a down payment in cash from their own resources, if the purchase price of the property is greater than the reasonable value of the property, to cover the difference.
Another exception is on Graduated Payment Mortgages (GPMs). In cases where the veteran does not have full entitlement available, the lender will often require a down payment with the goal of meeting secondary market requirements. The rule of thumb in the secondary market is that the VA guarantee—or the VA guarantee and the down payment combined—must equal 25% or more of the loan.
What is the maximum VA Loan amount?
The only limit on a VA loan is that it cannot be greater than the lesser of the purchase price or the appraised value of the property, plus energy efficient improvements and VA funding fees, if applicable. Having said that, the majority of lenders typically won’t approve no-down payment loans greater than $417,000—or $625,500 in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and U.S. Virgin Islands—because of secondary market limitations.
Moreover, some geographic areas will allow VA programs up to $1,000,000, often referred to as VA Jumbo loans.