For almost 70 years, these loans have helped level the playing field for American service members. Today, the VA loan program is more important than ever before, as borrowers turn to safety, security and buying power of these government-backed loans.
But millions of service members have yet to take advantage of the benefits earned by their service. Fewer than 10 percent of the nation’s 24 million veterans have utilized their VA home loan benefits.
The reality is that scores of veterans and service members already meet the eligibility requirements. Here’s a look at who is eligible to participate in the program:
- Service members who served on active duty for 90 days during wartime or 181 during peacetime
- Members of the National Guard or Reserves who served at least half a dozen years
- Surviving spouses — who have not remarried — of a service member killed in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related injury
- Veterans discharged due to a service-related injury
Those who meet the eligibility requirements need to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE), which can be found on the VA website or from a VA-approved lender. The COE is a basic form that confirms an applicant’s eligibility for the VA loan program.
Completing a COE through a VA-approved lender is often faster than doing so through the VA thanks to the Automated Certificate of Eligibility (ACE) technology. Lenders with ACE can pull a COE within seconds, whereas the VA may take weeks to process the form.
It’s also important to keep in mind that eligibility doesn’t equal loan approval. Not everyone who is eligible to participate in the program will ultimate secure a VA loan.