A home loan backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can be a great way for eligible service members and their beneficiaries to take out an affordable mortgage — but even though they don’t require a down payment, they’re not free. The VA loan funding fee is a one-time charge associated with taking out a VA home loan. The amount you’ll pay depends on what type of loan you’re taking out, how much you are borrowing, whether or not it’s your first time taking out such a loan, and the size of your down payment.
However, there are some circumstances in which you may not have to pay the VA funding fee — or in which you might be eligible for a funding fee refund. Read on to learn everything you need to know about how the VA home loan funding fee works, and how much you might expect to pay if you’re planning to get one.
What Is a VA Funding Fee?
As discussed above, the VA funding fee is a one-time fee an eligible service member, veteran, or survivor must usually pay in order to take out a VA home loan. This is separate from any down payment the borrower might make, homeowners insurance, or any other cost associated with home-buying: the funding fee’s purpose, per the VA itself, is to help “lower the cost of the loan for U.S. taxpayers.”
Whether you’re buying, building, renovating, or repairing a home, or even refinancing an existing mortgage, if you take out a VA loan, you’ll need to pay the funding fee unless you meet an exemption requirement, which we’ll talk about in more detail below. Of course you’ll also need to meet any other VA loan requirements, much the way you would if you were qualifying for a conventional home loan.
💡 Quick Tip: Apply for a VA loan and borrow up to $1.5 million with a fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage. The flexibility extends to the down payment, too — qualified VA homebuyers don’t even need one!†
First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.
How Does the VA Funding Fee Differ From Mortgage Insurance?
Mortgage insurance, also known as private mortgage insurance or PMI, is usually required on conventional mortgages when the borrower makes a down payment less than 20%. In most cases, when you take out a VA loan, you’re not required to make a down payment at all, nor to pay mortgage insurance. The VA funding fee is a totally separate cost.
Even though it might sound like a downer at first, paying the VA funding fee rather than PMI is really good news for borrowers: Although the VA funding fee is calculated as a percentage of your overall home loan, just like mortgage insurance, it’s far less expensive than having to pay mortgage insurance over time. That’s because the funding fee is assessed just once, while mortgage insurance is paid every month as part of your mortgage payment until you’ve paid off more than 20% of the home loan. That means PMI has the ability to stack up to very high amounts over time.
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Why Is the VA Loan Funding Fee Assessed?
As discussed above, the VA loan funding fee is meant to help lower the cost of VA loans to American taxpayers, since these loans don’t require the borrower to make a down payment or pay mortgage insurance. It’s a relatively small, one-time cost that makes the whole program more affordable for everybody in the long run — what some might call a win-win situation.
How Much Is the VA Funding Fee?
The amount of the VA funding fee varies depending on whether or not this is your first time using a VA loan and how large of a down payment you’re planning to make. (Which type of loan to get is one of many things you’ll have to consider if you’re a first-time homebuyer.) The higher a down payment you make, the lower your VA funding fee will be — and the fees are always lowest the first time you take out a VA loan.These fees can be adjusted over time, and they actually went down in 2023. Today, they range from 1.25% to 3.3%.
💡 Quick Tip: Active duty service members who have served for at least 90 consecutive days are eligible for a VA loan. But so are many veterans, surviving spouses, and National Guard and Reserves members. It’s worth exploring with an online VA loan application because the low interest rates and other advantages of this loan can’t be beat.†
2023 VA Funding Fees for Purchase and New Construction Loans
Here are the rates active-duty military members, veterans, and their survivors can expect when taking out a VA loan. If you used a VA loan in the past to pay for a manufactured home, you’re considered a first-timer for the purposes of this fee. And if your loan from the VA is a Native American Direct Loan, you pay a flat 1.25% regardless of whether this is your first VA loan or how much your down payment is.
|Down Payment Amount||VA Funding Fee|
|First VA Loan||Less than 5%||2.15%|
|5% to 9.99%||1.5%|
|10% or higher||1.25%|
|Subsequent VA Loans||Less than 5%||3.3%|
|5% to 9.99%||1.5%|
|5% to 9.99%||1.5%|
How Is the Fee Paid?
The VA funding fee is due when your loan closes. You can either pay it all at once as a lump sum then, or incorporate it into your financing and pay it off over time. Of course, if you choose to finance your funding fee, you will likely accrue interest on it, making it more expensive in the long run.
Are There Any VA Funding Fee Exemptions?
Yes! If you fall into one of the following circumstances, you won’t have to pay a VA funding fee:
• You’re receiving VA compensation for a disability connected to your service.
• You’re eligible to receive VA compensation for a disability connected to your service, but you’re being paid for active duty or receiving retirement compensation instead.
• You’re the surviving spouse of a veteran and you receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
• You’ve received, before the date your loan closes, a proposed or memorandum rating that says you’re eligible for compensation because of a pre-discharge claim.
• You’re an active duty service member who provides evidence before or on your closing date of having received the Purple Heart.
Is Anyone Eligible for a VA Funding Fee Refund?
In addition to the above circumstances, if you’re later deemed eligible for VA compensation due to a disability connected to your service, you may be entitled for a refund of your VA funding fee. To confirm, you’d need to call your VA regional loan center at (877) 827-3702 (TTY: 711). They’re available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET.
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What Do You Need to Provide to Get a VA Funding Fee Refund?
While the VA regional loan center will walk you through your funding fee refund claim, be aware that you’ll need to provide some documentation to prove your eligibility for a refund. That includes:
• A copy of your disability award letter — the office may also be able to verify your compensation in your system if you’ve lost the letter
• A copy of the signed closing documents
• A copy of your current mortgage statement
Some or all of your VA funding fee may be refunded depending on the eligibility of your claim.
The VA funding fee is a one-time fee that borrowers must pay to take out a VA loan. It’s due at closing, and the amount varies depending on how much you borrow, the size of your down payment and other factors. First-time VA borrowers always enjoy lower fees than those who take out subsequent VA loans.
SoFi offers VA loans with competitive interest rates, no private mortgage insurance, and down payments as low as 0%. Eligible service members, veterans, and survivors may use the benefit multiple times.
Our Mortgage Loan Officers are ready to guide you through the process step by step.
What is the typical funding fee for a VA loan?
For a first-time borrower who doesn’t make a down payment as part of their home purchase, the VA loan funding fee in 2023 is 2.15% of the loan amount. So if you borrowed $200,000 in this scenario, the fee would be $4,300.
What is the new VA funding fee for 2023?
Fees now range from 1.25% to 3.3% of the loan amount, depending on your circumstances. The VA home loan funding fee percentage was reduced as of April 7, 2023 by 0.15% in most categories — and 0.3% for those taking out a VA loan that is not their first and who put down less than 5%.
How to avoid VA funding fee
Unless you are eligible for an exemption due to a service-connected disability (or in a few other instances), it’s impossible to avoid the VA funding fee entirely if you’re taking out a VA loan. That said, your funding fee will be lower if you put down a higher down payment. It’s also lower for first-time borrowers than those taking out subsequent VA loans.
Photo credit: iStock/kupicoo
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†Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.