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While we are not affiliated with the government in any way, our private company engaged writers to research the LIHEAP program and compiled a guide and the following answers to frequently asked questions. Our goal is to help you get the benefits that you need by providing useful information on the process.

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About Us

We are not affiliated with the government in any way. We are a private company that engaged writers to research the VA home loans and compiled a guide and the following answers to frequently asked questions. Our goal is to help you get the benefits that you need by providing useful information on the process. We are not providing legal or financial advice. If you need such advice please contact an attorney or a financial advisor.

What Are VA Home Loans?

VA home loan programs are VA direct and VA-backed home loans that provide veterans, service members, and their survivors the ability to purchase, refinance, build, or improve a home. These loan programs can generally offer better benefits compared to other federal loan programs and traditional mortgages, including better loan terms and waived down payment requirements in most cases.

The VA home loan program is administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Learn more about the VA home loan program on the Department of Veterans Affairs website here.

What Types of VA Home Loans Are Available?

There are four types of VA home loans:

  • Purchase loan
  • Cash-out refinance loan
  • Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRL)
  • Native American Direct Loan (NADL) program

A VA purchase loan can be used to buy, build, or improve upon a home. Veterans can usually get better loan terms with a purchase loan than traditional mortgages, and 90 percent of borrowers don't need to make a down payment. Borrowers also face fewer closing costs, do not need to pay private mortgage insurance premiums, and do not pay a penalty if they pay the loan off early. Learn more about purchase loans here.

The VA cash-out refinance loan can be used to refinance a mortgage that you already have, replacing your current loan with a new one with different, often better terms. This type of VA loan program also allows you to take cash out of your home equity to use towards other expenses. Learn more about cash-out refinance loans here.

A VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) allows you to refinance an existing VA-backed home to reduce or stabilize monthly mortgage payments by refinancing your current VA loan with a new one. Learn more about an IRRRL here.

The Native American Direct Loan (NADL) program is for veterans who are or have a spouse that is Native American. This loan program can be used to build, improve, or buy a home that is on federal trust land. Borrowers are not required to pay a down payment in most cases, have limited closing costs, and do not need to pay a private mortgage insurance premium. In some cases, the NADL program can also be used to refinance an existing NADL. Learn more about the NADL program here.

A VA purchase loan, cash-out refinance loan, and an IRRL are all VA-backed home loans. Having a VA-backed home loan means that the Department of Veterans Affairs will guarantee a portion of your loan that you receive from a private lender. This guarantee protects the lender in the event of a foreclosure, so the lender is able to offer the borrower better terms for the loan.

The NADL program is the only VA home loan that is a VA direct home loan. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is the mortgage lender for the Native American Direct Loan program participants. The VA often provides better terms for a loan than a private lender.

Learn more about the types of VA home loans available here.

How Much Assistance Does VA Home Loans Provide?

The amount of assistance that you can receive with a VA home loan depends on if you have full entitlement. If you have full entitlement, you will not have a loan limit. Instead, the amount you can receive depends on the lender that is approving you for a loan. Your loan limit will be determined by factors such as credit history, assets, and income.

You have full entitlement if at least one of the following is true:

  • You have never had a VA home loan
  • You previously had a VA home loan, but you paid the loan in full and sold the property
  • You previously had a VA home loan, but you had a compromise claim or foreclosure and repaid the loan in full

You have a remaining entitlement if you do not meet one of the above criteria or if any of the following are true:

  • You currently have an active VA home loan that you are still repaying
  • You previously had a VA home loan that you paid in full, but you still own the home
  • You refinanced your VA home loan into a non-VA loan, but you still own the home
  • You had a foreclosure or compromise claim on a VA home loan, but you did not repay the loan in full

If you have a remaining entitlement, you may be required to make a down payment if you are using your remaining entitlement or the amount of your loan is over $144,000. You will also have a loan limit based on the county where you live. You can learn more about county loan limits here.

For more information on VA home loan limits and entitlement status, click here.

Who Can Qualify for VA Home Loans?

To qualify for VA home loans as a veteran, an active duty service member, or National Guard or Reserves member, you must meet requirements based on your:

  • Service history
  • Duty status
  • Discharge status

The amount of time you must have served as an active duty service member, in the National Guard, or as a Reserve member varies based on the service you served in and the date you enrolled. If you do not meet the minimum service requirement, you may still be eligible for a VA home loan if you were discharged for one of the following reasons:

  • Certain medical conditions
  • A service-connected disability
  • Reduction in force
  • Hardship
  • The convenience of the government
  • Early out

Generally, you must not have received a dishonorable discharge to qualify for the VA home loan program. However, if you received a discharge status other than honorable, dishonorable, or bad conduct, you may be eligible for a VA home loan by applying for a discharge upgrade. You can learn how to apply for a discharge upgrade here.

Learn more about VA home loan eligibility requirements here.

If you are a veteran's surviving spouse, you may qualify for the VA home loan program. To qualify, you must be the spouse of a veteran and the veteran:

  • Is missing in action, or
  • Has been declared a prisoner of war (POW), or
  • Died from a service-connected disability or died while in service and you did not remarry, or
  • Died from a service-connected disability or died while in service and you did not remarry before December 16, 2003 or before you were at least 57 years old

In some cases, you may still qualify for the VA home loan program if your spouse was totally disabled, and your spouse may not have died as a result of their disability.

Learn more about surviving spouse VA home loan eligibility requirements here.

How to Apply for VA Home Loans

To apply for a VA home loan, you will need to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Unless you are applying for a Native American Direct Loan, you will need to provide your COE to the lender you wish to apply for a loan. To apply for a Certificate of Eligibility, complete the following three steps:

  1. Review the application requirements and gather documentation necessary to complete your application.

Learn what documents you need here.

  1. Choose how you are going to apply, whether online, by mail, or in person.

To apply for a VA home loan online, click here to begin the online application.

To apply for a VA home loan by mail, complete the Request for a Certificate of Eligibility form here and mail it to the address found on the form.

To apply for a VA home loan in person, contact your lender. Many private lenders can help you apply for your Certificate of Eligibility.

  1. Submit your application.

If you have any questions about the application process or require assistance, contact the VA regional loan center at 1 (877) 827-3702.

How to Check Your Application Status

The amount of time that it takes to process your application may vary by how you apply. The fastest way to apply for the VA home loan program is online or with your lender. You can check your application's status for a VA home loan by contacting the VA regional loan center at 1 (877) 827-3702.

What Happens After You Apply for Benefits?

The process of purchasing a home using a VA home loan is similar to purchasing a home with a traditional mortgage. Once your application for a VA home loan has been processed, you will receive a letter regarding your eligibility. If you are eligible for the VA home loan program, you will also receive a Certificate of Eligibility that you must provide your lender.

Unless you are seeking a Native American Direct Loan, you will need to find a private lender. Your private lender will likely need additional documents from you, such as your proof of income and expenses. Different lenders may offer different interest rates and fees, so it's recommended that you shop around for the best rate.

Once you have a lender and have negotiated your loan terms, you will be ready to select a real estate agent and shop for homes within your price range.

To learn more about the home buying process with VA home loans, click here.

How to Appeal Denials

If you are not found eligible for the VA home loan program, you will be notified after your application has been processed. Your notice will include information regarding the reason your application was denied.

If you do not agree with the VA's decision, you have the right to file an appeal. Filing for a Higher-Level Review will allow a senior reviewer to review your case and determine if the decision is correct. You cannot submit new evidence for this type of appeal, and it can take between four and five months to complete the appeal process.

You can request a Higher-Level Review by mail or in person.

To file by mail, complete the Decision Review Request: Higher Level Review form here and send it to the address shown on the form.

To file in person, visit your nearest regional benefit office. Find the regional benefit office closest to you here.

Learn more about Higher-Level Reviews here.

If your VA home loan application was denied, but you have new evidence to support your application, you can apply for a Supplemental Claim. This form of appeal allows you to add new evidence that is relevant to your eligibility or case. A reviewer is assigned to your case and will determine if the new evidence you submit alters the decision made on your case. It can take between four and five months to complete the appeal process.

You can request a Supplemental Claim by mail or in person.

To file by mail, complete the Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim form here and send it to the address shown on the form.

To file in person, visit your nearest regional benefit office. Find the regional benefit office closest to you here.

Learn more about Supplemental Claims here.

To learn more about the VA home loan program appeal process, click here.

Need More Help?

For help with a VA home loan application or any further questions about the VA home loan program, contact the VA regional loan center at 1 (877) 827-3702. The VA regional loan center is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST.

You can also contact your lender for further assistance.

View or Download Our Free Guide

While we are not affiliated with the government in any way, our private company engaged writers to research the VA home loan program and compiled a guide and these answers to frequently asked questions. Our goal is to help you get the benefits that you need by providing useful information on the process.

Our free VA Home Loan Guide is filled with helpful information about how to apply, program eligibility requirements, and how to get in touch with local offices. You can view or download our free guide here.