by Kate Kohler, PenFed Foundation
Buying your first home?
The PenFed Foundation can help. Through their Dream Makers program, the PenFed Foundation provides a $5,000 matching grant to help military and veterans.
For many service members and veterans, buying a home can seem like a distant goal. Just saving up enough money to make a down payment can feel like a daunting task.
Through the Dream Makers program, the PenFed Foundation provides $5,000 grants to active duty, reserves, and National Guard, and veteran military, as well as current employees of the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security, to help with down payments and closing costs on their first homes. This grant is a $3-for-$1 matching grant, which means that the Foundation provides $3 for every $1 that the military member or veteran puts in toward their down payment or closing costs.
Last year, the Foundation provided a record number of Dream Makers grants to help service members and veterans who were first-time home buyers. This was more than a 300% increase over the past two years.
With home mortgage interest rates still relatively low, the program has proven popular since it started in 2007. The PenFed Foundation has gone from giving 51 grants totaling $254,000 in 2010 to 168 grants totaling $823,000 last year. The goal this year is to give over $1 million in Dream Makers grants.
What is the catch?
There is no catch – this program is open to members and veterans of every branch of service, including the Coast Guard. Spouses of deceased military are also eligible.
You must be a first-time home buyer and have a gross annual income of $55,000 or less, or 80 percent of area median income, adjusted for family size – that covers a lot service members and veterans. According to recent statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median pay for enlisted members of the armed forces is roughly $34,000 per year. As an example, this would mean an income of $66,750 for a family of four located in suburban Washington, DC or $69,700 for a family of five located outside of Camp Pendleton, California.
If you decide to apply, first determine what you will be able to contribute toward a down payment and closing costs. The program requires a minimum of a $500 contribution from the applicant. The Foundation’s Dream Makers program will match that amount three-to-one, up to a maximum of $5,000. Also, you’ll need an estimate of the amount of your mortgage loan, since you’ll need to put down three percent to qualify for a grant. The mortgage must also be a 30-year, fixed-rate loan on a single-family dwelling. Townhomes and condominiums are eligible.
The last step in receiving a grant from the Dream Makers program is to attend a HUD home-buying educational seminar in your area. The financial education seminar is free to all attendees.
Financial literacy and education is a cornerstone of all PenFed Foundation’s programs, and we want to make sure you are best prepared for the financial responsibilities of home ownership.
Once you are approved for the grant, we wire the funds directly to your closing agent. If you have put these funds toward your down payment – you have immediate equity in your house!
Those interested in learning more and applying for a Dream Makers grant online today should visit: http://www.penfedfoundation.org/dreammakers. If you know someone who may be interested in applying for a grant, connect with us on Facebook: Facebook.com/PenFedFoundation. The foundation assures all applicants who apply and meet the requirements will receive a grant.
Kate Kohler is a former Army captain and chief operating officer of the PenFed Foundation, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization working to meet the unmet needs of military personnel and their families through supporting wounded soldiers and providing financial management assistance and home ownership aid. The foundation is also the primary sponsor of a new free hotel for veterans called the Defenders Lodge, a $17 million public-private partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs in which the foundation is raising $11 million to cover the cost of construction. http://www.penfedfoundation.org