What is Eligibility?
Eligibility means the veteran meets the basic criteria of appropriate length and character of service to utilize the home loan benefit. Entitlement, which will be discussed later, is the amount a veteran may have available for a guaranty on a loan. An eligible veteran must still meet credit and income standards in order to qualify for a VA-guaranteed loan.
The VA Lender’s Role
Before processing and closing a loan for an applicant, the lender must ensure the applicant is an eligible veteran. Lenders should never close a loan before they establish eligibility, since VA cannot guarantee a loan for an ineligible veteran. Once a COE is received, there is generally no need to have it updated before loan closing, unless the lender has reason to believe it is inaccurate.
Although this chapter discusses some of the basic eligibility criteria, it is not intended to provide a lender with all the knowledge necessary to make an eligibility determination; consequently, all the various exceptions and nuances of eligibility are not included. Exhibit 1-A at the end of this chapter provides a quick reference and overview of basic eligibility criteria.
Lenders should use VA’s online application to attempt to obtain the COE. Go to VA’s Information Portal and select webLGY from applications; then select Eligibility and follow the prompts. In many cases, a COE can be generated in seconds. If not, lenders should select a link to submit an electronic application. This method allows lenders to upload supporting documentation and submit an application electronically to the Eligibility Center.
Veterans may also apply for a COE online at http://www.ebenefits.va.gov.
Lenders and veterans can still apply by mail by completing VA Form 26- 1880, Request for a Certificate of Eligibility. However, to ensure quicker responses, it is preferable to apply online. Lenders in particular should use the online application, rather than mail.
IRRRL Eligibility Determination
VA systems will not generate a VA case number for an IRRRL if there is no record of an active loan. This means if a lender successfully obtains a case number for an IRRRL, no further documentation of eligibility is required.