Why Is My VA Funding Fee So High? Key Factors Explained

by | VA Loans | 1 comment

Navigating the world of VA loans can often feel like a maze, especially when it comes to understanding the costs involved. One question that frequently pops up is, “Why is my VA funding fee so high?” If you’re scratching your head over this, you’re not alone. The VA funding fee, a necessary expense for most VA loan borrowers, can sometimes surprise you with its size. But there’s a method to the madness.

This fee is designed to offset the taxpayers’ cost for the VA home loan program, ensuring it remains viable for future veterans. Its amount can vary based on several factors, including the type of loan, your military service, and whether it’s your first time using the VA loan benefit. Let’s dive deeper into what influences the VA funding fee and how you can potentially reduce what you owe. Understanding these elements can demystify your loan’s costs and help you navigate your home buying journey with more confidence.

Understanding the VA Funding Fee

The VA funding fee is a one-time payment required on VA home loans, designed to lower the cost to taxpayers by funding the VA home loan program itself. Its amount can significantly influence your overall loan expenses, making it crucial to grasp why it can be high and how it is calculated. Unlike other mortgage fees, the VA funding fee does not depend on your credit score or down payment size in traditional ways but varies based on several distinct factors.

Key Factors Affecting the VA Funding Fee

  1. Loan Type: The purpose of your loan impacts the fee. Purchase loans and construction loans typically have higher fees compared to refinancing loans.
  2. Military Service: Active duty service members, veterans, and select Reservists or National Guard members have differing fees. Certain conditions, such as receiving VA disability or being a surviving spouse, may exempt you from the fee.
  3. Down Payment: Making a down payment reduces the fee. For first-time VA loan users, a down payment of at least 5% but less than 10% lowers the fee, with further reduction if the down payment is 10% or more.
  4. Subsequent Use: If you’ve utilized your VA loan benefits before, the funding fee increases slightly, supporting the sustainability of the program for new borrowers.

Calculating Your VA Funding Fee

The fee is calculated as a percentage of the loan amount. For example, first-time VA loan users purchasing a home without a down payment in 2023 would typically see a funding fee of 2.3% of the loan amount. If it’s a subsequent use, the fee increases to 3.6%.

To mitigate the impact of the funding fee, consider making a down payment or using your entitlement for the first time. If you have service-connected disabilities, check your eligibility for a fee exemption, which can significantly reduce your loan costs. Understanding these elements helps demystify your VA funding fee and enables informed financial planning for your home purchase, ensuring you can account for this cost in your home buying journey.

VA Funding Fee Rates Explained

Understanding VA funding fee rates is crucial in grasping why your VA funding fee might be higher than expected. These rates are determined by several factors, including the type of VA loan, the borrower’s military status, the size of the down payment, and whether it’s your first time using the VA loan benefit. The fee’s primary purpose is to cover the costs of the VA home loan program, ensuring it remains viable for future veterans and service members.

Type of Loan: Different VA loan types, such as purchase loans, refinance loans, and cash-out refinance loans, come with varying funding fee rates. For instance, the funding fee for a regular purchase loan might differ from that of an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL).

Military Service Status: Your service branch (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard) and category (active duty, Reserves, National Guard) can influence the funding fee rate. Generally, veterans and active duty service members might have lower rates compared to those in the Reserves or National Guard.

Down Payment: A larger down payment reduces the VA funding fee rate. For first-time users, having a down payment of at least 5% but less than 10% can lower the fee. The fee decreases even further with a down payment of 10% or more.

First Time vs. Subsequent Use: If you’re using the VA loan benefit for the first time, the funding fee rate will be lower compared to subsequent uses. It’s designed this way to encourage initial utilization of the benefit while still supporting the program’s sustainability for those who need to use it more than once.

By analyzing these aspects, you’ll understand why your VA funding fee might be at its current rate. Making informed decisions, such as providing a larger down payment if possible, can significantly affect your funding fee and overall loan costs. Also, remember to check if you qualify for any exemptions, such as for service-connected disabilities, which can lead to a waiver of the fee altogether.

How Your Service History Affects the Fee

Your service history plays a crucial role in determining your VA funding fee. This fee, critical for sustaining the VA home loan program, varies significantly based on whether you served in the active duty military, National Guard, or Reserves. Each branch of service and category of military personnel contributes differently to how the VA assesses this one-time fee, which is integral to calculating the overall cost of your loan.

Active Duty Military

If you’re an active duty service member, you generally encounter a lower VA funding fee compared to other service categories. The VA recognizes active duty service as full-time military deployment, which often qualifies for a slightly reduced fee rate. This acknowledgment reflects in the funding fee structure, incentivizing those who serve or have served actively.

National Guard and Reserves

Members of the National Guard or Reserves might notice that their VA funding fee is slightly higher than that of their active duty counterparts. This difference acknowledges the part-time nature of their service commitment. However, even within these categories, making a down payment can significantly reduce the fee.

Down Payment Impact

Regardless of your service category, making a down payment can substantially influence your VA funding fee rate. For all service members, including active duty, National Guard, and Reserves, a down payment of at least 5% can lower the funding fee. The VA encourages larger down payments with progressive reductions in the fee for 5% and 10% down payments, making this a strategic option for reducing overall loan costs.

First-time vs. Subsequent Use

Your service history in conjunction with whether it’s your first time using the VA loan benefit or a subsequent use also affects the funding fee. Subsequent uses of the VA loan typically incur a higher fee, reflecting in the VA’s tiered structure aimed at sustaining the program while encouraging responsible borrowing.

In sum, your service history, from the branch of military service to the specifics of your service record, directly influences your VA funding fee. Understanding these nuances can guide you in navigating the costs associated with securing a VA loan, ensuring you make informed decisions that could potentially lower your overall loan expenses.

Strategies to Reduce Your VA Funding Fee

Reducing your VA funding fee involves understanding the factors that influence its calculation and taking steps to alter those you can control. Given its significant role in keeping the VA home loan program sustainable, the funding fee may seem daunting. However, there are strategies to minimize its impact on your mortgage expenses.

Consider Making a Larger Down Payment

Increasing your down payment is one of the most effective methods to lower your VA funding fee. If you put down 5% or more of the loan amount, the fee decreases. Specifically, a down payment between 5% and 9% can reduce the fee, and putting down 10% or more offers the greatest reduction.

Explore Your Service-Connected Disability Status

Veterans with service-connected disabilities might be eligible for a funding fee exemption. The VA assesses disability claims to determine eligibility. If you haven’t yet explored this possibility, submitting a claim or checking your status could potentially eliminate the fee altogether.

Use Your VA Loan Benefit for the First Time

The VA funding fee varies depending on whether it’s your first time using the benefit or a subsequent use. First-time users generally enjoy a lower fee. If you’ve previously taken advantage of a VA loan, consider alternative financing options for your next home purchase to avoid the higher subsequent-use fee.

Investigate the Type of Loan

The type of VA loan influences the funding fee amount. Opt for a purchase loan or a full refinance instead of a cash-out refinance if possible, as the latter tends to carry a higher fee. Adjusting your loan choice can lead to savings on the funding fee.

Plan Your Loan Around Military Service Category

Your category of military service impacts the funding fee, with members of the Reserves and National Guard typically paying more than active-duty service members. If you have a choice in the timing of your loan application, coordinating it with your military service category could benefit you.

By addressing these areas, you can effectively manage and potentially reduce your VA funding fee, making your home purchase more affordable.

When You Might See a Refund

Understanding circumstances for a VA funding fee refund is crucial in managing your VA loan costs effectively. Certain situations may qualify you for a refund, even after you have paid the fee. Recognizing these situations can significantly impact your financial planning and potential savings. Here are several instances where you might be eligible for a refund of your VA funding fee:

  1. Disability Compensation After Loan Closing: If you’re awarded service-connected disability compensation after your loan closing, and the effective date is before the loan closing, you’re entitled to a VA funding fee refund.
  2. Disability Status Change: A change in your disability status that would have made you exempt from the fee if it had been in place before closing qualifies you for a refund.
  3. Incorrect Fee Charged: Mistakes happen. If the VA determines that an error was made in assessing your fee, you’ll receive a refund for the excess amount charged.
  4. Overpayment: In cases where you’ve inadvertently paid more than the required funding fee, the VA will issue a refund for the overpaid amount.

To initiate a refund, contact your lender or the VA directly. Provide them with the necessary documentation to support your claim, such as the decision letter from the VA regarding your disability compensation or corrected eligibility based on your service. The VA processes these refunds directly, often crediting the amount to your loan balance, but the specifics can vary depending on your situation and the nature of the refund.

Remember, awareness of these potential refund scenarios ensures you’re not leaving money on the table. Maximizing the benefits offered by the VA loan program not only includes utilizing the loan itself but also understanding how to recover costs improperly charged or due to changes in your eligibility status.


Navigating the VA funding fee can initially seem overwhelming. Yet understanding its determinants and how your service history, down payment, and loan usage impact the fee is crucial. You’ve got strategies at your disposal to potentially lower this cost, from increasing your down payment to checking if you qualify for any exemptions. Don’t overlook the possibility of a refund if circumstances change post-closing. Armed with this knowledge, you’re better equipped to make informed decisions, ensuring you leverage the full benefits of the VA loan program while keeping costs in check. Remember, every bit of savings counts towards making your home financing as affordable as possible.


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