Understanding the Original VA Funding Fee: Costs & Factors

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Embarking on the journey of homeownership is an exciting milestone, especially for veterans and service members who’ve dedicated their lives to serving our country. If you’re considering using a VA loan to purchase your dream home, you’re likely wondering about the VA funding fee – a critical piece of the puzzle. This fee is essential to understand, as it affects the overall cost of your loan and your financial planning.

The VA funding fee is a one-time payment that helps to lower the cost of loans for U.S. taxpayers by covering the loan’s administrative costs. The amount you’ll pay depends on several factors, including the type of loan, your military service, and whether it’s your first time using a VA loan. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with a clear breakdown of what to expect, ensuring you’re well-informed and ready to take the next step in your home-buying journey.

Understanding the VA Funding Fee

Grasping the concept of the VA funding fee is crucial as you navigate through the home-buying process utilizing a VA loan. This fee is a mandatory charge applied to both purchase and refinance loans, playing a pivotal role in reducing the loan’s cost to taxpayers by offsetting administrative expenses incurred by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The VA funding fee’s amount hinges on several key factors, such as the type of loan you’re obtaining, your service category (regular military, Reserves, or National Guard), and whether you’re making use of the VA loan benefit for the first time or subsequent times. Typically, the fee ranges from 1.4% to 3.6% of the loan amount, with lower fees for those making a down payment and higher fees for subsequent uses of the VA loan benefit.

For first-time users who do not make a down payment on a purchase loan, the funding fee stands at 2.3% for regular military and slightly higher, at 2.4%, for members of the Reserves and National Guard. Subsequent uses of the loan without a down payment leap to 3.6% for both categories. It’s noteworthy that making a down payment can significantly reduce the funding fee, dropping it to as low as 1.4% of the loan amount.

Certain veterans are exempt from paying the VA funding fee, including those receiving VA compensation for service-connected disabilities, eligible surviving spouses, and service members with a proposed or memorandum rating, indicating that they’re eligible for compensation due to pre-discharge events.

Understanding these details ensures you’re not caught off guard by the VA funding fee when it comes time to secure financing for your home. It empowers you, granting the ability to accurately calculate the overall cost of your VA loan and strategize financially for your future.

How Much Is the Original VA Funding Fee?

Determining the exact amount of the original VA funding fee involves considering several factors, including the type of loan, your military service classification, and the size of your down payment, if any. For first-time VA loan users, the funding fee typically ranges between 2.3% and 2.4% of the loan amount if you make no down payment. This fee exists to finance the VA loan program without burdening taxpayers, ensuring the Department of Veterans Affairs can cover administrative costs effectively.

If you’re a veteran or service member planning to use a VA loan for the first time, you’ll face a funding fee of 2.3% if you put no down payment. Conversely, with a down payment of 5% to 9.99%, the fee reduces to 1.65%. Making a down payment of 10% or more decreases the fee even further to 1.4%. These percentages apply regardless of whether you’re buying a home or refinancing your mortgage.

For those who have utilized the VA loan benefit previously, the funding fees increase to encourage an initial contribution towards the loan. Without a down payment for subsequent uses, the fee jumps to 3.6%. However, similar reductions apply for down payments: 1.65% for a down payment between 5% and 9.99%, and 1.4% for down payments of 10% or more.

Certain individuals are exempt from the VA funding fee, offering significant savings for eligible veterans, including those with service-connected disabilities and eligible surviving spouses. This exemption underscores the VA’s commitment to providing support for service members and veterans in recognition of their sacrifices.

To accurately calculate your specific VA funding fee, you’ll need to identify your loan scenario’s specifics, including your service category and whether it’s your first time using a VA loan or a subsequent use. This calculation ensures you can plan your finances effectively, considering both the benefits and obligations of the VA loan program.

Factors Affecting the VA Funding Fee

Understanding the variables influencing the VA funding fee is crucial for veterans and service members eyeing a VA loan. Such nuances directly impact how much you’ll pay. Key factors include loan type, military service category, previous VA loan usage, and down payment size.

Loan Type

Different types of VA loans attract varying fees. Purchase loans and construction loans typically carry standard fees, while refinancing options may have reduced rates. For instance, the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) often features a lower funding fee compared to a standard purchase loan.

Military Service Category

Your branch of service plays a role in determining your funding fee. Active duty personnel and veterans generally face the same rates, but members of the Reserve and National Guard may see slightly higher fees. This differentiation acknowledges the diverse nature of military service.

Previous VA Loan Usage

First-time VA loan users enjoy lower fees. However, if you’re tapping into your VA loan benefits for a subsequent time, expect to face a higher fee. This increment reflects the re-utilization of the VA loan benefits, placing a greater emphasis on ensuring the sustainability of the program.

Down Payment Size

A larger down payment leads to a reduced VA funding fee. Borrowers who put down less than 5% might pay the standard rate, but those who increase their down payment to 5% or more can significantly lower their fee. Specifically, down payments of 5% to 9% and 10% or more decrease the fee incrementally, promoting sizable initial investments in the property.

By considering these factors, you can accurately anticipate the funding fee for your VA loan, positioning yourself for a more informed financial planning process. Each element—from the loan type and your service category to your history with VA loans and your down payment commitment—contributes to the final fee, affecting the overall affordability of your home purchase through the VA loan program.

Exemptions and Waivers

The VA funding fee, a vital aspect of your VA loan, doesn’t apply to everyone. Knowing if you qualify for exemptions can save you a significant amount of money. Primarily, veterans receiving VA disability compensation and surviving spouses of veterans who died in service or from service-connected disabilities are exempt from the VA funding fee. Additionally, active duty service members who have received a Purple Heart also qualify for exemption.

To secure an exemption, proper documentation proving eligibility is necessary. For veterans, a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) indicating the receipt of disability benefits suffices. Surviving spouses need to provide a DD Form 1300 (Report of Casualty) alongside their COE. Active duty service members eligible due to a Purple Heart must present official documentation confirming the award.

Waivers for the VA funding fee are slightly different from exemptions and are less common. A waiver might be available if a disability claim is pending at the time of closing. If approved, the fee may be refunded. To apply for a waiver, evidence of the pending claim must be submitted at closing or shortly thereafter. The process involves coordination with the Department of Veterans Affairs and your lender.

It’s crucial to discuss your eligibility for exemptions or waivers with your lender early in the loan process. They can guide you through obtaining the necessary documentation and ensure it’s submitted correctly. Remember, even if exempt, other closing costs may still apply, so prepare accordingly.

Understanding these exemptions and waivers can dramatically affect the cost of purchasing a home through a VA loan. Ensure you explore these options to optimize your benefits fully.

Financing the VA Funding Fee

Financing the VA funding fee is a key consideration when you’re taking out a VA loan for purchasing a home. Given its importance, familiarize yourself with efficient ways to manage this expense. The fee can be paid upfront at closing or financed over the life of the loan, depending on your financial situation and preferences.

Paying Upfront

Opting to pay the VA funding fee upfront means covering this cost at your loan’s closing. This method does not add to your mortgage balance, potentially saving you interest over the life of the loan. If you’re financially able, paying upfront could be more cost-effective in the long run.

Financing Over the Loan Term

If paying upfront is not feasible, you have the option to finance the funding fee, rolling it into your loan’s total amount. While this method eases immediate financial pressure, it increases your overall loan balance and the amount of interest you’ll pay.

Determining the Fee Amount

The fee amount varies, generally ranging from 1.4% to 3.6% of the loan amount, depending on factors such as your military service category, down payment size, and whether this is your first VA loan. Larger down payments and first-time use typically result in lower fees. For instance, a first-time user putting down 10% or more could see a fee as low as 1.4%.

Considering Exemptions and Waivers

Remember, certain conditions, such as receiving VA disability compensation, can exempt you from the VA funding fee. Securing an exemption significantly reduces your loan costs. If you believe you’re eligible, present the necessary documentation to your lender early in the process to avoid unnecessary charges.

Ultimately, deciding whether to finance the fee or pay it upfront depends on your immediate financial ability and long-term financial goals. Evaluating your options carefully will ensure you handle the VA funding fee in a way that’s most advantageous for you.


Navigating the VA funding fee is a critical step in leveraging your VA loan benefits effectively. Remember, the amount you pay is influenced by several factors, including your service type, loan specifics, and whether you’re a first-time or subsequent loan user. Opting to make a larger down payment can significantly reduce your fee, while certain exemptions can eliminate it altogether. It’s essential to explore all your options and consult with a VA loan specialist to ensure you’re making the most financially savvy decisions for your situation. Armed with the right information and strategic planning, you can maximize your benefits while minimizing your costs.


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