Borrowers who use a VA loan to buy a home must submit a variety of documents to complete the process. One of the first documents you’ll need to obtain is something known as the Certificate of Eligibility (COE).
You can only begin the real estate VA loan application process once you have obtained your COE. It represents the first step in the process, at least from a documentation standpoint.
But what is the Certificate of Eligibility? What kind of information does it include? And how do you go about obtaining this document? Here’s what you need to know about VA loan certificate eligibility and how to apply for a VA loan using it.
What Is the VA Loan Certificate of Eligibility?
The Certificate of Eligibility, or COE, is one of the official documents of the VA loan application checklist. It is acquired from the Department of Veterans Affairs in order to verify your eligibility for a VA loan. This document includes your information, such as your name, military service status, and a determination of your entitlement amount.
For your VA loan application to be approved by your lender, a copy of COE is required. This emphasizes the need to have a Certificate of Eligibility before starting your VA loan application process. If you are going for a VA loan to buy a home, make sure you are already equipped with a COE to commence with your loan approval process.
There are many ways to secure your COE. These are listed below in the further sections.
However, before that, it is essential to know why this document is vital in the loan approval process. How does it act as a critical factor in assessing your eligibility as well as proof of genuineness to take up a VA loan?
Why You Need a COE
One of the most essential elements required for verification eligibility and VA loan application requirements is a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). As mentioned above, this official paper serves as physical evidence to show that the borrower fits into specific standards set by the VA. As the VA loan program is meant for military personnel, veterans, and qualified spouses only, COE becomes a critical point to check that such benefits go into the right hands.
Such strict eligibility standards highlight the selectivity of the VA loan program, implying that not all people may be eligible. The qualifying criteria require an individual to fall under one of the categories set for this purpose as active-duty service members or honorably discharged veterans and qualifying spouses.
Indeed, the COE is critical in ensuring every veteran loan applicant deserves this much sought-after program. The COE serves as a form of protection, guaranteeing that those who have taken up the responsibility to serve their country are rewarded. This commitment to serving those who have served the nation is a fundamental principle on which the VA loan program stands, and also COE, for that matter, supports this principle as its first step.
The Kind of Information It Contains
Basic information on the borrower’s service history, such as branch of service, dates of duty, and discharge status, is included in the Certificate of Eligibility. Using this data, mortgage lenders can assess if the borrower satisfies the minimal service criteria for a VA loan.
Here’s an overview of some of the information contained within the COE:
Personal Details: The COE is a fundamental document that contains necessary personal details such as the veteran’s or service member’s name and Social Security number. This information is necessary for proper identification and acts as a focal point in VA loan processing.
Entitlement Amount: In the COE, however small its importance might be in comparison to other sections enlisted, a special mention of the entitlement amount is essential for potential borrowers. It shows the existence of enough entitlement for a zero-down VA Loan – a necessary factor for first-time applicants or those who have used up their entire entitlement in past home purchases.
Previous Usage: The COE is a detailed loan history for the VA borrower that includes details of prior usages and notes either remaining entitlement or available loan amount. This information is vital with regard to military personnel or veterans who have a history of using VA loan advantages.
Funding Fee Status: Another feature of the COE is its disclosure about whether or not the borrower owes a VA funding fee. It makes clear the exceptions for some veterans, including those on disability compensation or otherwise qualifying as exempt from this one-time cost.
Entitlement Codes: Entitlement codes are clearly visible at the top of COE and help clarify what kind of service is available to eligible borrowers. These codes are one of the most important references, allowing you to learn about an individual’s eligibility for a VA loan as a result of their military service. The following list shows some of the entitlement codes commonly found on a VA loan COE:
01: World War II
02: Korean War
03: Post-Korean War
04: Vietnam War
05: Entitlement Restored
06: Surviving Spouse
07: Spouse of POW/MIA
08: Post-World War II
10: Persian Gulf War
11: Selected Reserves
How to Request Your Certificate
Before finally filling out the VA loan application form and applying for a loan, the borrowers have three ways to request their COE from the Department of Veterans Affairs. They can request it through their mortgage lender, by mail, or online through the VA.gov website, which also helps check the VA loan application status.
It can take a significant amount of time to get the COE, depending on which method is chosen. If you request it by mail, allow a processing period of 4 to 6 weeks. By contrast, choosing an online submission or through a mortgage lender can result in immediate receipt of the COE, which may make it one of the most efficient options.
Through Mortgage Lender
The coordinated process of providing the COE through your mortgage lender eliminates any obstacles that could otherwise prevent you from receiving an authorization letter. This approach helps to simplify the interaction between a lender and VA, speeding up COE procurement.
Traditional mail is a reliable option for COE requests, but it has a longer processing time. Expect the delivery of the Certificate of Eligibility within 4 – 6 weeks. Although that takes patience, this methodology is meticulous and makes sure the needed documentation reaches securely.
However, if you request it through the VA.gov website, you’ll be able to:
- Check the status of your COE request within the review process
- Review any letters the VA has sent to you about your request
- Upload any additional documents to support your COE request
- Download your Certificate of Eligibility once the VA approves it
Each of these options appeals to different needs and schedules. Asking through a mortgage lender guarantees an efficient communication process that delivers quick results. Reliability is offered by traditional mail, but the wait time is longer.
The COE request process can be conveniently navigated by borrowers in the online option via VA.gov, which is a combination of efficiency and real-time tracking. No matter which method is chosen, acquiring the COE remains an essential element in securing a VA loan.
5 Key Takeaways from This Article
We’ve covered a lot of important information in this article. Let’s wrap up by summarizing some of the most critical points.
- COE Purpose: The COE, issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs, is an important document that determines eligibility in the VA loan process. It includes crucial information such as the individual’s name, veteran status, and benefits, which are vital for determining eligibility.
- Initial Step: The VA loan process starts with obtaining the COE, which is an initial and mandatory step. Prior to the application and underwriting steps, it forms a pre-condition for initiating the complex loan approval process.
- Contents: The COE is a source of essential information, providing an overview that enables the borrower to satisfy all requirements. It includes details about personal data, entitlement amount, previous utilization of VA loan benefits if any, and an operational history as well as status towards the funding fee to give lenders a complete picture of the applicant.
- Obtaining COE: Borrowers enjoy a wide array of options for obtaining their COE. The individuals can request through the VA’s online website, mail address, or their mortgage lender. Unlike the mail requests that require 4 to 6 weeks, selecting either the online or lender option can provide with an almost immediate COE result and give a real advantage due to time efficiency.
Additional Note: This article provides the basic information about a Certificate of Eligibility, which is required for a VA loan. To learn more about the necessary documents during a COE request, borrowers can refer to various resources on the official VA.gov, which represents plenty of information concerning this loan process, including all requirements for obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility.