Certificate of Eligibility for Prequalification of a VA Home Loan

Certificate of Eligibility for Prequalification of a VA Home Loan

If you’re a Veteran looking to upgrade or buy a new home, then you should consider a VA Home Loan. These types of loans are only for service members, Veterans, and surviving spouses.  

To receive a VA Home Loan, you will work with a private bank or mortgage company. The VA will guarantee a portion of the loan, which allows lenders to feel confident providing $0 down payment on the loan. You will, however, still need the following to qualify: 

  • A credit score of 620 or higher 
  • A debt-to-income ratio of 41 percent or less 
  • A valid Certificate of Eligibility  

The first two requirements are self-explanatory. In this article, we’re going to focus on the third requirement – how to get a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for a VA Home Loan.  

Eligibility According to State of Military Operations 

When applying for your COE, you will need to provide certain documents to prove that you served. One of those documents can be your DD214 once you were discharged. 

Look below to find the state of military operation you were or are serving.

Active Duty Eligibility

If you are active duty, you will need a statement of service signed by an officer or your commander in the unit. The statement of service will need to show the following: 

  • SSN
  • Date of birth
  • Entry date
  • Any lost time during your active duty  

Note: You must serve for at least 90 consecutive days to be eligible. 

Separated From Service Eligibility

Enlisted – Timeline: September 7, 1980 until present 

Officers – Timeline: October 16, 1981 until present  

Length of Term Discharge Type 
2 years active duty All except dishonorable  
181 active duty or other ordered term All except dishonorable 
181+ days active duty Hardship, reduction in force, condition, service-connected compensable disability 
Less than 181 days active duty Service-connected disability  

Wartime Eligibility

World War II – Timeline: September 16, 1940 – July 25, 1947  

Korean War – Timeline: June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955 

Vietnam War – Timeline: August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975 

Length of Term Discharge Type 
90 days active duty All discharges except dishonorable 
Less than 90 days active duty Service-connected disability discharge 

Peacetime Eligibility

All – Timeline: July 26- 1947 – June 26, 1950 and February 1, 1955 – August 4, 1964 

Enlisted – Timeline: May 8, 1975 – September 7, 1980 

Officers – Timeline: May 8, 1975 – October 16, 1981 

Length of Term Discharge Type 
181 days active duty All discharges except dishonorable 
Less than 181 days Service-connected disability discharge 

Reserve or National Guard Eligibility

Members of an active unit, attended required weekend drills and two-week active duty for training 

Length of Term Discharge Type 
6+ years Honorable discharge 
6+ years Retired list 
6+ years Standby or ready reserve with honorable discharge 
6+ years Currently in selected reserve 

If you are a reservist or national guard, a DD214 does not exist. You will need to provide an NGB Form 22, a report of separation record of service, and NGB Form 23 Retirement Points Accounting.

Surviving Spouse Eligibility

Surviving Spouses may also be eligible for a VA Home Loan, given certain situations. See below for the qualifications: 

  • Un-remarried spouses of a Veteran who passed while in service  
  • Un-remarried spouses of a Veteran who passed from a service-connected disability 
  • Spouses of a servicemember missing in action or a prisoner of war 
  • Surviving spouse who remarries at the age of 57+ and is married on or after December 16, 2003 
  • Surviving spouses of certain totally disabled veterans who may have not passed from their disability  

How to Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility

If you met any of the qualifications above that prove you are eligible for the state of military operation you served in, then you are able to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility.

There are 3 ways you apply for your COE:

  • Apply online in your eBenefits portal
  • Apply through your bank or mortgage lender
  • Apply by mail with VA Form 26-1880

If you have issues or roadblocks with getting your COE, you can give Strategic Veteran a call. We are a veteran-run company offering free resources to help you tackle the VA system.