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VA Certificate of Eligibility – Everything You Need to Know

What you'll learn:Learn the ins and outs of the VA Cerificate of Eligibilty

EXPECTED READ TIME: 4 MINUTES

If you’re a veteran or active servicemember, a government-backed VA loan can help you get into the home of your dreams with little money down, the industry’s best interest rates, and no mortgage insurance. Knowing the benefits of the VA loan, the natural next question is: Am I eligible?

That journey starts with a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Here’s everything you need to know about COEs from the ground up.

What is a VA COE?

A COE is a seal of approval that says you meet the minimum military status requirements for a VA loan. This document is generated by the VA and is necessary for lenders to process your loan application. It includes important details, including:

  • VA Eligibility – Proof you are eligible for the VA home loan program
  • VA Entitlement – The total amount the VA will guarantee for your loan
  • VA Funding Fee – Whether or not you are exempt from the VA loan funding fee

What are the VA eligibility requirements?

Military status, length of service, and additional factors determine who can get a COE and when. Below are some general guidelines.

  • Active-duty servicemembers, National Guard, and Reservists – Eligible after 90 days of service
  • Veterans who served after August 2, 1990 – Eligible if you served for 24 consecutive months
  • Veterans who served before August 2, 1990 – Requirements vary based on time of service
  • Surviving spouses and other situations – Requirements vary based on circumstance

To confirm your VA eligibility, see the full list of requirements.

 

What documents do I need to apply for a VA COE?

It’s helpful to research and compile the documents you need before you sit down to apply for a COE. Here are some of the most common status requirements. Visit the VA website to see all documentation requirements.

If you’re a(n):

You’ll need:

Veteran

A copy of your discharge papers (DD214)

Active-duty servicemember

A statement of service signed by your commander or personnel officer with pertinent details of your service including the date you entered duty and the duration of any lost time

Current or former activated member of the National Guard or Reserve

A copy of your discharge papers (DD214)

Other eligible servicemember or spouse

Other documentation as specified by the VA

How long does it take to get a VA COE?

The VA suggests allowing 30 days for a COE to be processed. Applying by mail can take even longer, while some online requests can be completed in minutes. It’s recommended to apply early to avoid delays to your loan.

How do I apply for a COE?

A COE comes directly from the VA. You can obtain it in multiple ways:

  1. Online – Request your COE now through eBenefits.
  2. By mail – Fill out VA form 26-1880 and mail it to the designated address. If you are pressed for time, consider another option.
  3. Through a lender – Ask your lender for assistance. They may even apply on your behalf and significantly cut down on the wait time.

Got your COE? Here’s what to do next.

While it’s a promising first step, obtaining a COE does not guarantee approval of a loan. It simply provides proof to your lender that you’ve met the necessary military status requirements.

To obtain a loan, you must meet your lender’s financial standards, such as credit score, income level, and debt-to-income ratio (DTI). Your property will also have to be appraised and pass the minimum property requirements. If you haven’t already, find a financial institution that specializes in VA loans. Your lender will educate you on the rest of the VA loan process and walk you through your next steps.

Need more guidance?

To learn more about PenFed loans or what loan is right for you:

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