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A VA loan is a loan available to veterans and active-duty service members that’s offered through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It allows past or current service members and their surviving spouses to purchase a home with a low interest rate and a small or nonexistent down payment requirement.

Did you know that members of the U.S. National Guard or Army Reserve can also qualify for VA loans? Many current or former members of the National Guard or Reserve are unaware that they too can qualify for these loans. Let’s find out how.

 

VA Loan Requirements

 

In order to secure a VA loan, you’ll generally need to meet a few basic requirements. While the VA doesn’t set a minimum credit score requirement, some lenders do. It varies by lender, but you’ll generally be good with a credit score of at least 580 – 620. You will also need to show proof of income and a certificate of eligibility (COE). VA loans are a little different from conventional loans and may also require that you complete a few extra steps before closing on your loan, such as performing a VA pest inspection and paying the VA funding fee.

 

Eligibility Requirements For National Guard And Reserve

 

The full list of requirements can be found on the VA’s website, but in general, to qualify for a VA loan you must usually meet one of the following criteria:

  • Served 181 days of active service during peacetime
  • Served 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime
  • Are the spouse of a service member who lost their life in the line of duty

For members of the Army Reserve or National Guard, however, the requirements are slightly different – which is why many qualifying service members aren’t aware they can get a VA loan in the first place. To qualify for one of these loans as a member of the Reserve or National Guard, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Service members activated under Title 32 orders may be eligible for a VA loan after serving 90 cumulative days of honorable full-time duty between August 2, 1990 and now, 30 days of which have to have been consecutive
  • For any other period of service, you must have completed 6 years of service and must have been honorably discharged
  • There are various exceptions – for instance, you may qualify if you were discharged for reasons such as hardship or certain medical conditions

 

Documents Needed For A VA Loan

 

To apply for a VA loan as a member of the Reserve or National Guard, you’ll need your certificate of eligibility (COE)which you can obtain through your VA approved lender with proper proof of service. You can also get your COE online through the VA’s eBenefits portal or you can apply by mail by sending in VA form 26-1880.

 

How Can I Apply For A VA Loan?

 

To apply for a VA loan, you should first find a VA-approved lender, like Rocket Mortgage®. Once you’ve found a lender, they can typically help you obtain your COE and get prequalified or preapproved for your loan amount. After that, your lender will guide you through the rest of the process, like getting your VA Appraisal and taking care of other requirements that need to be addressed before closing.

 

Alternatives To A VA Loan

 

If you’re a member of the U.S. Army Reserve or National Guard and are not eligible for a VA loan, there are still other loan options for you, too. Let’s go over a few alternatives if you can’t qualify for or aren’t interested in a VA loan.

 

FHA Loan

 

An FHA loan is a mortgage loan that’s backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). These loans are designed for lower-income home buyers and have less strict requirements for minimum borrower credit score and down payment amounts. Similar to a VA loan, you can get an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 580 – 620.

Both FHA and VA loans are great options, so if you’re between an FHA and VA loan, you may want to research the specific differences between the two loans. With an FHA loan, for instance, you don’t have to pay the VA funding fee – but you will have to pay a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) which isn’t required for VA loans.

Check out our guide to all the differences between FHA and VA loans for more details.

 

Conventional Mortgage

 

A conventional mortgage is a loan that isn’t backed or insured by the U.S. government. It must be “conforming,” which means it needs to meet the requirements to be sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Conventional loans are some of the most common mortgage loans but have higher minimum FICO® Score and down payment requirements than VA or FHA loans.

With most conventional loans, you’ll also see slightly higher interest rates than you would with VA or FHA loans – and you’ll likely pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI), too.

For more information on what sets conventional loans apart from other loans and when they might be a smart choice, check out our guide to how conventional loans and FHA loans differ.

 

USDA Loan

 

USDA loans are loans available to rural home buyers. These loans are offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and are meant for low-income buyers in very rural areas. These loans tend to have very low interest rates and require no down payment. To get one of these loans, you can’t live in a very populated area and must meet certain income requirements – but if that sounds like you, a USDA loan might be a great option.

Rocket Mortgage is not currently accepting USDA loan applications.

 

The Bottom Line

 

VA loans are a fantastic and exclusive option for active-duty service members, veterans and their spouses that can grant advantages not found in other loan options, such as relaxed credit requirements, no down payment requirement and the ability to refinance up to 100% of a home’s worth.

If you are a veteran or current member of the National Guard or U.S. Army Reserve, contact Rocket Mortgage to see if you qualify for a VA loan and start the home buying process today.

This Post Has 37 Comments

    1. Hi Mr. Batten:

      You can use a VA loan on new construction. Quicken Loans only does loans on homes that have been completed. If you’re buying from a builder, you can get a preapproval online through Rocket Mortgage or go ahead and give one of our Home Loan Experts a call at (888) 980-6716. We don’t do construction loans, but there are lenders that do those.

    1. Hi Monica:

      Based on the information provided, it sounds like you absolutely would qualify for a VA loan. If you would like to get started online, you can do so through Rocket Mortgage or give one of our Home Loan Experts a call tomorrow or whenever you’re ready at (888) 980-6716.

      I would like to thank you for your service and I hope this has been helpful. Have a great day!

  1. Hi,

    I wanted to find out if I qualify for a personal loan if I’m currently non-active duty reservist and I’ve served about 10 years?

    1. Hi Tracy:

      There’s no reason you wouldn’t qualify based on your occupation. In terms of ability to repay, lenders don’t necessarily look at how you get the money as long as it comes in regularly and can be counted on. So your profession doesn’t have anything to do with it. In terms of whether you qualify, I think the best thing to do is just check out RocketLoans. You can look into your loan options without doing a hard pull on your credit. That would give you an idea of what you might qualify for. I hope this helps and thank you very much for your service!

      Thanks,
      Kevin

  2. So I’m joining the Army Reserves I leave for training in October 2017 my contract is for 6 years. So my question is when I get back from training can the Army help me get a house or do I have to wait until my first 6 years is up?

    1. Unfortunately, you have to have six years of service, so you would have to wait. I’m sorry.

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  3. Hello, I am currently serving in the US Army Reserve. I’ve been in the service since 18 September 2014, my contract is six years but I plan on Re-Uping once my ETS comes closer. Would I qualify already or have to complete my first six years?

    1. Hi Michael:

      Unfortunately, you need six years of service time in the reserves. You may have other options. We have some low down payment programs if you’re interested in buying right now. You can go over loan options and get an online preapproval through Rocket Mortgage. If you’d like to speak with one of our Home Loan Experts, they’d be happy to take your call at (888) 980-6716. Thank you very much for your service! Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

    1. Hi Danny:

      I’m going to recommend you talk to someone about this. The VA policies require six years of service in the reserves. Depending on how they do the counting, you may be just short. One of our Home Loan Experts can tell you for sure and if necessary, look into other programs that might work for you. You can get in touch with them by calling (888) 980-6716.

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  4. I did boot camp in 1987 and attended school. I was a active reservist until 1994 with a honorable discharge. Desert Storm had begun, I was pregnant so my commander allowed me to be discharged did I hurt my chances to qualify for a VA loan?

    1. Hi Carol:

      It depends on when you get done with training and started serving as an active reservist. You have to have served six years as an active reservist. It also depends upon whether you served any period of active duty over that time. One of our Home Loan Experts could talk you through whether you qualify. You can get in touch with them by filling out this form or calling (888) 980-6716. You could also check the VA website for the guidelines on whether you qualify for a certificate of eligibility that we would need to see for you to qualify for a VA loan. Hope this helps! Thank you very much for your service!

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  5. Joined the Air National Guard in Dec 2011. Coming up on six years this December, however, I have done a over a year of active duty orders in this almost 6 year time frame. Would I qualify?

  6. i was in the navy reserve for 8 years, and honorably discharge…. but was never activated, served my mandatory yearly training, never got activited.. do i qualify…?

    1. Hi Joe:

      Based on what you’re telling me, it sounds like you qualify. You can find out for sure through the VA eBenefits website. If you get your certificate of eligibility, you can get a full preapproval or refinance online through Rocket Mortgage or call (888) 728-4702. Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  7. I was in the National Guard for three years enlisted for six is there any loans that I can qualify for my service in the Guards with good credit? Thanks!

  8. I am currently still in the US Army Reserves serving Nov 11, 2011 – present. A total of just over 5 years. Does Basic Training and AIT count towards active duty time? That was a total of 180 days if it does count and i would be eligible correct?

    1. Hi Dylan:

      Unfortunately, training time does not count toward active service time. I’m sorry I can’t give you a more positive answer. Thank you so much for your service!

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  9. So reserve time does not start till your first day at reserve unit?
    Graduated OCS Mar 2011
    TBS Oct 2011
    MOS Mar 2012
    First day at reserve unit APR 2012.

    Trying to see if I’m eligible for my six years right after OCS graduation, MAR 2011…. or is it six years after first day at unit APR 2012.

    Thanks.

    1. Hi TK:

      The timeline doesn’t include training time, so it would be six years after you join the unit. Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

    1. Hi Michael:

      Unfortunately, you have to be in the reserves for six consecutive years of active duty. I’m sorry I can’t give you better news.

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  10. I served from 1993 to 1999 in the national guard. I was then on inactive duty for an additional two years until 2001 and then honorably discharged. I didn’t serve for more than six years which is how it is worded. Can it be six years exactly or does it have to be seven or more. Would that disqualify me or would I be eligible? Please let me know if you can. Thanks so much.

    1. Hi George:

      I’m not sure exactly how it works in this case, so I’m going to get you to a Home Loan Expert who will know the requirements for VA loans. They’ll be reaching out.

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

  11. I served in the navy reserves from 11/2010-05/2015 I was honorable discharged due to a service related disability. Would I qualify?

    1. Hi Ezequiel:

      According to the VA website, you may be eligible on the basis of your service-connected disability. I’m going to have someone reach out to you with more information on next steps, but you might start with contacting the VA to find out more information.

      Thanks,
      Kevin Graham

    1. Hi Michael:

      Based on the fact that you were in the reserve for seven years and were honorably discharged, you would qualify. You can find more information on the VA website. I’m going to forward your information to someone to help you get started if you’re interested in a loan. Thank you for your service!

      Kevin Graham

  12. I was in the Army Reserves from 1991- 1999. My unit deactivated in 1994. I went into Inactive Ready Reserve status. I was honorably discharged in 1999. Can I qualify for a COE for VA home loan?
    Thanks, Alison

    1. Hello, Alison. We appreciate your service, and I’ll be sure to have a home loan expert research your situation. They’ll send you an email to ask some more questions.

        1. Hi Henry:

          Without knowing the specific details on your service dates, it’s difficult for me to give a definitive answer here, but there’s an eligibility table on this page that should help you out.

          Thanks,
          Kevin Graham

  13. How much is the funding fee for a National Guard who meets the criteria above on a 267k sales price with 20k down payment(roughly 7%)?

    Also can that person request his own COE through ebenefits if he feels it is faster than mailing the form in?

    1. Hi Lisa! I’ve passed this on to our team of mortgage experts who will reach out to you with more information.

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