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VA Funding Fee

A VA loan could be a great financing option for a veteran looking to become a homeowner. These loans often give active and former service members the opportunity to buy homes without making a down payment or paying for mortgage insurance. The VA limits how much veterans can contribute to closing costs. But one cost most VA borrowers can’t avoid is the VA funding fee. This is a one-time fee for VA loan borrowers that must be paid before a veteran can close on a home.

Do you have questions about how a home purchase can affect your financial plan? Speak with a financial advisor today.

What Is the VA Funding Fee?

VA loans include a fee charged to most borrowers called the VA funding fee. This fee gets sent directly to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Funding fees help the VA cover lenders’ losses. If a borrower defaults, the VA can step in and pay off a portion of the loan. The fees also provide the VA with funding that it can put toward other costs. And they ensure that the VA can help future borrowers purchase homes.

There’s more than one way to pay the VA funding fee. You could pay it up front in cash. You could also choose to roll the fee into your loan and pay it off over time. Just note that adding the fee to your loan balance will increase your monthly payments.

How Much Does the VA Funding Fee Cost?

VA Funding Fee

How much you’re required to pay in funding fees will depend on a few factors, including your military status. While VA loans usually don’t require a down payment, putting a small percentage down can reduce the cost of your funding fee. The VA will also look at whether you’ve had a VA loan or you’ve refinanced in the past.

The VA funding fee is expressed as a percentage of the loan amount. For regular military borrowers with no down payment, the funding fee is 2.3%. The fee increases to 3.6% for borrowers with previous VA loans. For those with a down payment of 5% to 9%, the funding fee is 1.65%. Any loans with a down payment of 10% or higher will include a funding fee of 1.4%.

Check out the full overview of rates for purchase and construction VA loans:

VA Funding Fee Rates for Purchase & Construction Loans
Down Payment Fee % (First-Time Use) Fee % (Each Subsequent Use)
0% – 4.99% 2.3% 3.6%
5% – 9.99% 1.65% 1.65%
10% and up 1.4% 1.4%

VA loan refinances also require a funding fee. With a first-time VA cash-out refinance, however, regular military borrowers pay a funding fee of 2.3%. Both amounts increase to 3.6% if the borrower has refinanced a VA loan before.

VA Funding Fee Exceptions

VA Funding Fee

Most VA borrowers will have to pay the funding fee. However, an exemption may apply to borrowers with service-related disabilities. This means that you may not have to pay the fee if you’re receiving VA disability or you’re eligible for VA disability (even if you’ve been called into active duty or you’re receiving retirement benefits instead). You may also qualify for exemption if you are the spouse of a veteran who died as a result of an incident or service-related disability.

Keep in mind that exemption from paying the funding fee is not automatic. You must apply for it and provide certain paperwork. Required documents include a Certificate of Eligibility (proving that you’re an unmarried surviving spouse), a signed VA Form 26-8937 and/or an original copy of the VA notification of disability rating with documentation of the retirement income you received for your service. After you apply, the VA must decide whether you qualify for exemption.

Bottom Line

Unless you receive an exemption, you’ll have to pay a fee when you take out a VA loan. The VA funding fee can make owning a home a bit more expensive for veterans and active service members. But the VA needs the funds to ensure that it can help future veterans purchase homes.

Tips for Your Mortgage and Home Search

  • Before you delve too deep into your home search, make sure you have an accurate representation of what you can really afford. This involves taking into account more than just your mortgage payments, but also closing costs, insurance and more. If this calculation seems a bit too complicated to do on your own, try the home affordability calculator from SmartAsset.
  • Buying a home is one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make, so fitting it into your financial life could be difficult. A financial advisor can help with this. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/michaeljung, ©iStock.com/designer491, ©iStock.com/DanielBendjy

Lauren Perez, CEPF® Lauren Perez writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset, with a special expertise in savings, banking and credit cards. She is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. Lauren has a degree in English from the University of Rochester where she focused on Language, Media and Communications. She is originally from Los Angeles. While prone to the occasional shopping spree, Lauren has been aware of the importance of money management and savings since she was young. Lauren loves being able to make credit card and retirement account recommendations to friends and family based on the hours of research she completes at SmartAsset.
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