Understanding VA Funding Fee: Options & Exemptions Explained

by | VA Loans | 1 comment

Navigating the world of home buying can be complex, especially when it comes to understanding the VA funding fee. If you’re a veteran or active military member looking to purchase or refinance a home, this fee is a crucial part of your VA loan process. But what exactly is it, and how does it work? Let’s break it down.

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 varies based on several factors, including the type of loan, your military service, and whether it’s your first time using a VA loan. Knowing how this fee affects your loan and your pocket can make a significant difference in your home buying journey.

Understanding the VA Funding Fee

Grasping the concept of the VA funding fee involves recognizing its role in the home buying or refinancing process for veterans and active military members. This fee, pivotal in mitigating taxpayer burden, finances administrative costs associated with a VA home loan.

Calculation and Factors Influencing the Fee

The amount you’re required to pay hinges on several key factors:

  • Loan Usage:
  • First-time users of a VA loan typically pay a lower fee compared to those using the benefit again.
  • Type of Military Service:
  • Active duty service members and veterans may have different rates, with National Guard and Reserve members sometimes facing slightly higher fees.
  • Down payment Size:
  • Making a down payment can significantly reduce the fee. For instance, a down payment of 5% but less than 10% can lower the fee, with even more reduction for down payments of 10% or higher.
  • Loan Type:
  • Fees vary depending on whether you’re buying, refinancing, or accessing loan programs like the VA Energy Efficient Mortgage.

It’s crucial to remember these percentages are applied to the loan amount, not the purchase price of the home.

Fee Payment Methods

You have options when it comes to paying the VA funding fee:

  1. Rolling Into Loan:
  • Most borrowers choose to incorporate the fee into their loan amount, spreading the cost across the loan’s lifetime.
  1. Direct Payment:
  • Alternatively, paying the fee upfront at closing prevents extra interest charges over the life of the loan but requires ready cash.

Exemptions from the Fee

Certain individuals are exempt from paying the VA funding fee, including:

  • Veterans receiving compensation for service-connected disabilities,
  • Service members entitled to receive compensation for service-related disabilities if they did not receive retirement or active duty pay, and
  • Surviving spouses of veterans who died in service or from service-connected disabilities.

Understanding these aspects of the VA funding fee ensures you’re better prepared financially, making the most of your VA loan benefits without surprises during the home buying or refinancing process.

How the VA Funding Fee Is Calculated

Calculating the VA funding fee entails considering several key factors, ensuring a precise charge applies to your loan scenario. Primarily, the fee percentage hinges on your loan type, your military category, whether you’re making a down payment, and if you’ve used your VA loan benefit before. Here, accuracy in understanding how these elements influence the fee is essential for your financial planning.

Loan Type and Usage

  • Purchase Loans and Construction Loans demand a fee between 2.3% to 3.6% for first-time users, depending on your down payment and military service. Subsequent uses see an increase in the fee up to 3.6%.
  • Refinance Loans carry a standard fee of 2.3% for the first use and 3.6% for subsequent uses, aligning with the objective of keeping the program sustainable for future beneficiaries.

Military Service

  • Regular Military members typically face a slightly lower fee compared to those in the Reserves or National Guard. The percentage difference underscores the VA’s approach to equitably distribute costs among its beneficiaries.

Down Payment

  • A Down Payment significantly influences your funding fee. Making a down payment of at least 5% but less than 10% reduces the fee, and it’s lowered even further with a down payment of 10% or more. This reduction rewards your initial investment towards the home purchase, reflecting in a decreased fee.


Certain individuals are exempt from the VA funding fee, including veterans receiving compensation for service-connected disabilities and surviving spouses of veterans who died in service or from service-connected disabilities. Knowing whether you qualify for an exemption can save you a substantial amount, altering your financial planning for a home purchase or refinance.

Understanding these components assists in accurately determining your VA funding fee, directly impacting your loan costs and overall financial strategy when buying or refinancing a home with VA benefits.

Who Is Exempt from the VA Funding Fee?

In the context of utilizing VA loan benefits, it’s essential to know if you qualify for an exemption from the VA funding fee. This fee, pivotal for veterans and active military members during the home buying or refinancing process, doesn’t apply to everyone. Exemptions are granted under specific conditions, providing significant savings.

Firstly, veterans receiving VA compensation for service-connected disabilities are exempt from paying the VA funding fee. This acknowledgment respects their sacrifices and acknowledges the lasting impacts of their service.

Additionally, if you are a veteran eligible for compensation but are not receiving it because you’re on active duty, you’ll also be exempt. This ensures that active duty status does not disadvantage veterans entitled to compensation.

Surviving spouses of veterans who died in service or from service-connected disabilities benefit from this exemption as well. This policy provides financial relief and honors the memory of the service member.

Moreover, active duty service members who have received the Purple Heart are exempt from the VA funding fee. Recognizing the valor and sacrifice symbolized by the Purple Heart, the exemption stands as a testament to their bravery.

Lastly, it’s crucial to verify your eligibility for exemption by providing the necessary documentation, such as a disability rating or proof of the Purple Heart award, during the loan application process. Proper documentation ensures your exemption is applied correctly, avoiding unnecessary charges.

Understanding these exemptions helps in planning your finances effectively when using VA loan benefits. If you fall into any of these categories, you’ll benefit from waived fees, making the home buying or refinancing process more affordable.

How to Pay the VA Funding Fee

Paying the VA funding fee is a critical step in finalizing your home buying or refinancing process through the VA loan program. This fee supports the cost of the VA Home Loan program and ensures its continuity for future generations of military members. Understanding your options for paying this fee is essential for smooth financial planning.

Roll Into Your Loan

The most common method to pay the VA funding fee is to roll it into the loan’s total amount. This option spreads the fee’s cost over the life of your mortgage, avoiding the need for upfront cash. While convenient, remember this increases your loan balance and, subsequently, your monthly payments and the total interest paid over the loan’s term.

Pay Upfront

Alternatively, you have the option to pay the VA funding fee upfront at closing. This method eliminates the need to pay interest on the fee amount, potentially saving you money over time. If you have available savings and prefer to minimize your loan amount and monthly payments, paying upfront is a financially prudent choice.

Partial Payment

Some buyers choose a middle ground by making a partial upfront payment and rolling the remaining amount into their loan. This approach balances the immediate financial impact with the long-term cost, helping to manage both upfront closing costs and monthly payments more effectively.

Using Gift Funds

You can also use gift funds to pay the VA funding fee. If receiving financial gifts from family or friends for your home purchase, ensure the gifting party provides the necessary documentation for the lender, detailing the gift’s purpose. This method can alleviate the financial burden without inflating your loan balance.

Each payment method for the VA funding fee offers distinct advantages, depending on your financial situation and preferences. Assessing your ability to pay upfront against the desire to spread the cost over time will guide your decision, ensuring you choose the best path for your financial future while leveraging the benefits of the VA loan program.

Comparing VA Loans With and Without the Funding Fee

When evaluating VA loans, understanding the impact of the VA funding fee is essential. This fee, essential for the sustainability of the VA loan program, significantly affects your loan’s cost, both upfront and over time.

For VA loans with the funding fee, you’ll notice the loan amount increases if you choose to roll the fee into your loan. This option, while convenient, means you’ll pay interest on a higher principal throughout the life of the loan. For instance, if you’re taking out a $200,000 loan and roll in a 2.3% funding fee ($4,600), your total loan amount becomes $204,600. Consequently, your monthly payments and the total interest paid over the loan’s term are higher.

Contrastingly, VA loans without the funding fee, applicable to veterans receiving compensation for service-connected disabilities or eligible surviving spouses, don’t face this cost. This exemption lowers the overall loan balance, resulting in more affordable monthly payments and less interest paid over the life of the loan. It highlights a significant benefit and cost-saving for those who qualify.

Moreover, choosing to pay the funding fee upfront or making a partial payment can also alter the loan economics. Paying upfront means your loan amount doesn’t increase, keeping your monthly payments and total interest lower than if the fee were rolled into the loan.

The choice between paying the VA funding fee upfront or financing it affects your loan’s total cost. Exemptions for the fee offer substantial savings, making a notable difference in the affordability of a home bought with a VA loan. Knowing these differences helps in making an informed decision that aligns with your financial goals when choosing a VA loan.


Navigating the VA funding fee doesn’t have to be daunting. Armed with the right information, you’re now equipped to make choices that best suit your financial situation. Whether you decide to pay upfront, roll the fee into your loan, or take advantage of exemptions, each decision plays a pivotal role in the affordability and management of your VA loan. Remember, the goal is to maximize your benefits while minimizing costs. By carefully considering your payment options and understanding the long-term implications of each, you’re on your way to securing a VA loan that aligns with your financial objectives. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance to ensure you’re making the most informed decisions in your home buying or refinancing journey.


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