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National Guard members and reservists can unlock the benefits of the VA loan program just like any other military branch. But VA loan requirements for those serving in the National Guard or Reserves are slightly different than those involving other military branches.
You can absolutely get a VA loan while in the National Guard or Reserves, or if you’ve been discharged, as long as you meet the basic service and financial requirements, and both the financial requirements.
VA Loan Eligibility for National Guard and Reservists
If you are a member of the National Guard or Reserves and wish to apply for a VA home loan, you must have:
- Served at least 90 days active duty under Title 10 orders OR 90 days total and 30 days consecutive under Title 32 orders
- Served at least 181 continuous days during peacetime
- Completed at least six years of time in service with a specific Guard or Reserve unit
Title 10 vs. Title 32 National Guard Orders
It’s important to note the difference between Title 10 and Title 32 orders when talking about VA loan eligibility.
Title 10 orders are issued by the President of the United States and concern matters of national defense. Under these circumstances, the National Guard is under federal control, with members used for military actions in the U.S. or overseas.
Title 32 orders are issued by state governors, as authorized by the President of the United States. Under Title 32, the state has control over the National Guard, which might be called out for natural disasters or other state emergency requirements.
In recent years, states have been authorized to use Title 32 status for COVID-19-related assistance, with Active Guard Reserve members paid by the federal government.
Documents Needed for National Guard and Reservist
In addition to meeting the minimum service requirements of VA loan eligibility, you must provide your VA lender with other required documents include the following:
Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
Your Certificate of Eligibility is one of the most important documents you will need in order to use your VA loan benefit. Getting your COE as a National Guard member or reservist is similar to other branches of the military.
However, you may be required to provide some additional paperwork.
In order to get your COE as a member of the National Guard or Reserves, you can speak to a lender, apply online through the ebenefits portal, or apply by mail with the VA Form 26-1880.
If you have any questions or need assistance, be sure to talk to a VA lender who is familiar with obtaining COEs for National Guard members and reservists.
DD Form 214
If you’ve been discharged from the National Guard or Reserves with active-duty time, you should have received a DD-214. This form states the total number of days you served, as well as the conditions of your discharge.
Statement of Service
Whether you are currently on active duty or have never been activated, you will have to submit a Statement of Service which must be signed by your unit commander or a personnel officer.
The Statement of Service contains:
- Your name and date of birth
- Social security number
- The date you entered the National Guard or Reserves
- Total number of creditable service years
- Duration of any absences from duty (or lost time)
- Unit command name, location and contact information
If you don’t meet active duty requirements or are no longer serving in the National Guard or Reserves, you’ll need to present copies of your separation paperwork.
Members of the National Guard must present an NGB Form 22, Report of Separation and Record of Service for each period of National Guard service. If retired, you’ll need an NGB Form 23, Retirement Points Accounting and proof of character of service.
Reservists must provide a copy of their latest annual retirement points statement, as well as evidence of honorable service.
» MORE: See today’s refinance rates
Financial VA Loan Eligibility for National Guard
In addition to proving your service eligibility, you must also meet the financial requirements of the VA loan program to be considered for this type of financing. The following requirements are the same across all branches of the military.
Income and Employment
Your income and employment status are very important when it comes to applying for any type of home loan, let alone qualifying for a VA-backed loan. Generally speaking, lenders want to ensure that you make enough money to afford your mortgage payment comfortably and to see a record that you are likely to pay back your debts.
This income can be from employment or self-employment, disability compensation, military pensions, or a combination. Depending on where your income comes from, you will need to submit different pieces of evidence to prove it.
For example, employees will need to submit pay stubs and W-2 forms, while those who are self-employed should count on providing business records and year-to-date profit and loss statements.
Debt-to-Income (DTI) Ratio
All lenders look closely at your debt-to-income ratio, which outlines your monthly income and expenses. This tells the lender whether you can afford a mortgage. Your DTI ratio is calculated by adding up all your fixed monthly expenses and determining how much of your income goes into paying off debt.
A high DTI ratio could be a bad sign for VA lenders, suggesting you’re spending more than you earn. Because of this, it’s a good idea to pay down large debts before applying for a home loan.
Your credit score is also a big factor when it comes to the approval of your VA mortgage application. Lenders like a higher credit score because this suggests you are a more responsible borrower.
This, in turn, could provide you with a loan at a lower interest rate and smaller monthly payment.
A lower credit score means that loan approval could be more difficult, and that any financing you receive could have a higher interest rate and less favorable terms.
The VA doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement, but most lenders like to see a credit score of 620 or above.
Apply for a VA Loan as a National Guard or Reservist
If you’ve served in the National Guard or Reserves, you might qualify for a VA loan to help you purchase your house.
Refi.com has a range of handy resources to help you in your house purchase journey. Try our required income for a mortgage calculator or mortgage qualifying calculator to get a better idea of current VA mortgage rates, and how much you can realistically afford to borrow.
With our comprehensive network of local mortgage brokers, lenders, and other financial professionals, we can help you find the best VA mortgage option for your circumstances. Get in touch today to learn more.