VA Guide

Who's Eligible for a VA Loan

Service Guidelines for VA Loans

When you apply for a VA loan, lenders will want to know that you have sufficient income. They also need to know you’re eligible for a VA loan. Eligibility is determined by the VA. If your service or situation meets the guidelines, the VA will issue a Certificate of Eligibility. It lets lenders know you’re eligible for a VA loan. Then the lender decides whether to approve your loan.

Type of Service

The VA considers service in these branches of the military and other organizations when deciding whether to issue a Certificate of Eligibility:

  • The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps
  • Selected Reserve and National Guard
  • Cadets in the United States Military Academy, United States Air Force Academy or United States Coast Guard Academy
  • Officers serving in Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy

Length of Service

The VA also sets guidelines for the length of service that qualifies for a Certificate of Eligibility. They apply to both service members on active duty and favorably or honorably discharged veterans. Here’s a quick way to see what’s required. If you experienced a service-connected disability, length of active duty required is lower. For complete details, visit the VA website.

Selected Reserve and National Guard

If you served six or more years in the Reserves or National Guard you may qualify for a VA loan. “Serving” means you were a member of an active unit, attended weekend drills, and two-week active duty for training.

You may qualify with fewer than six years of service if you served 90 days or more on active duty during wartime, or you were discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability.

Here are the guidelines for length of service for federal, non-training and active duty service in the Selected Reserve or National Guard. The VA will also accept six creditable years.

Date Served

Active Duty Required

Sept. 6, 1940 to Sept. 7, 1980

Standard service

Sept. 8, 1980 to Aug. 1, 1990

181 days

Aug. 2, 1990 to present

90 days

About Your Certificate of Eligibility

Your Certificate of Eligibility doesn’t just confirm you’re eligible to get a VA loan. It includes this helpful information:

  • How much entitlement you have to apply toward a VA loan
  • VA loan history and entitlement status
  • Your funding fee status

Some lenders will apply for your Certificate of Eligibility; some will expect you to do that. Either way, it usually doesn’t take long to hear back from the VA. In some cases, documents that show proof of service may be needed and that can take some time. For example, getting documents from the National Archives can take up to 90 days. If you want to avoid possible delays during the loan process, you can visit the VA website to see what’s required ahead of time.

Let Our Experts Do the Work

Rocket Mortgage® is a VA-approved lender. Our Home Loan Experts do most of the work so you don’t have to when it comes to getting your Certificate of Eligibility.

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