For direct online access to VA benefits and resources, create an account here.

This year, a Harvard University housing study made waves by reporting a frightening reality: over 38 million Americans can’t afford their home. It’s an increase of 146 percent over the past two decades (in 2001, it was 16 million).

Fortunately, if a veteran is faced with this dilemma, there are programs in place to help — ones that may be able to reduce mortgage payments, and lessen the burden.

Perhaps the most effective one is the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL).

The IRRRL is designed to work specifically with VA-backed loans, can lower the monthly number through refinancing by obtaining a better interest rate. It can also make what you owe more stable, as it can take you from an adjustable or variable rate to a fixed one.

How Do You Qualify?

Have a VA-backed home loan and can certify that you’re living in the home you’re looking to refinance.

What’s the Process to Get an IRRRL?

Find a lender. You must do this by going through a private back, credit union or mortgage company.

Give your lender your COE. It’s the Certificate of Eligibility you needed to get your original VA-backed home loan. If you don’t have it, it can be obtained here.

Go through the lender’s process. You’ll be responsible for closing costs, which can be paid up front or included within the new monthly payments.

What to Know About Closing Costs

These can add up to a lot of money (thousands of dollars) so it’s best to do a calculation before going through with anything officially: divide the closing costs by the amount you’re going to save every month. See if it’s worth it.

For more resources and information for homebuyers, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s site here.